Dover area to receive help from Team Rubicon for storm cleanup

DOVER — The city of Dover will get much-needed assistance in cleaning up some of the debris and yard waste left in the wake of Tropical Storm Asaias last week.

Team Rubicon, a nonprofit organization comprised mainly of veterans and first responders, will be coming to Dover at the end of the week to assist the city and its surrounding area in cleanup efforts from the storm that spawned a record-breaking tornado and wreaked havoc on dozens of properties.

“We are fortunate and grateful to have learned that Team Rubicon has agreed to come to our area to help in the cleanup efforts at no cost to the homeowners,” said Kay Sass, emergency management coordinator for the city of Dover. “They will be arriving towards the end of the week and will be bringing along their own chainsaws and other equipment to help get our area back to where we were.”

Team Rubicon is comprised on 189,967 volunteer members, often referred to as Greyshirts, across the nation. While all of them will not be descending upon Dover this week, the unique pairing of the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders and other specialists allows the organization to respond quickly and efficiently.

On Team Rubicon’s website, it says about its mission, “At our core, Team Rubicon is about neighbors helping neighbors. When crisis strikes our communities, we come together to help others on their darkest day. Why do we serve? Because it’s what we do.”

Ms. Sass said bringing in Team Rubicon was quite a coup.

“This really took a team effort,” she said, “and we worked endlessly over the weekend with myself, Mayor Robin R. Christiansen, Councilman David Anderson, Dover Police Chief Thomas Johnson, Kent County Department of Public Safety Director Colin Faulkner, Kent County Commissioner Jody Sweeney, State Representative Andria Bennett, Director of DEMA A.J. Schall, the board of education for Capital School District and administration, (and) we are able to meet the needs to bring these volunteers into our area to give relief to those in need at no charge throughout our community.”

All Team Rubicon services are provided free of charge. On average, Team Rubicon gains 200 new volunteers per week.

Large spikes in membership are usually caused by significant natural or humanitarian disasters and individuals’ desire to serve those in need. To engage individuals hoping to assist, Team Rubicon will deploy online recruitment campaigns targeted specifically at veterans and first responders.

The organization also focuses on helping the most vulnerable populations.

Its website says, “In 2016, 62 percent of all homes Team Rubicon serviced did not have home insurance. An American Progress report noted that the most extreme weather events typically harmed counties with household incomes below the U.S. median annual income of $51,941.

“Wildfires, tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms devastated areas with households that earned on average three percent less than the U.S. median income. It is easy to imagine the positive, long-term impact Team Rubicon’s free assistance provided to these families.”

Not many corners of Dover were spared in last week’s storm and tornado, which the National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed was a Delaware record-breaking 29.2-mile-long EF1 tornado that started in Dover and traveled all the way to Middletown. The distance covered by the tornado was more than double the previous record for a 1988 tornado in the state of 13 miles.

Officials with the NWS said the tornado, which touched down around 8:55 in the morning last Tuesday in the area of the Eagle Meadows Apartment complex on Sorghum Mill Road in Dover, had a maximum estimated wind speed of 105 mph and a maximum path width of 200 yards.

By the time the tornado had worked its way through Dover it had made a significant impact on several neighborhoods, including those by Moore’s Lake, the Sherwood development and others. It left the historic William Henry Middle School on Carver Road and Union Missionary Baptist Church on Lincoln Street in Dover condemned by the city’s fire marshal due to the damage those sites sustained.

A toll-free “Crisis Clean-up Line” has been set up to report the needs people in the Dover area have for debris removal at 1-844-965-1386. Residents are encouraged to call as soon as possible, which is a critical component of getting adequate help and assistance.

City officials said that even though the cutoff time on the recording to receive assistance states Aug. 28, that date may change, so residents should report damage immediately if they need help.

Mayor Christiansen was pleased that Dover was able to acquire the services of Team Rubicon to assist with cleanup.

“Team Rubicon is an outstanding organization and I very much anticipate their help in returning our city to normal,” Mayor Christiansen said. “They will be joining neighbors and other volunteers already in the trenches. Neighbors helping neighbors the Dover way.”