UPDATED: Isaias wreaks havoc around Milford’s Haven Lake

High winds from tropical storm Isaias damaged several trees on Tuesday at a property on Meadow Brook Lane in Milford. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

Update: The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down at 8:25 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, in the Evergreen and Meadow Brook area and moved north toward Haven Lake, Milford. The estimated wind speed was 100 mph. The tornado, impacting an area about 400 yards in width, covered about 2.7 miles.

MILFORD—Tropical Storm Isaias was deadly and destructive when it rolled through Milford on Tuesday morning. It hit the areas around Haven Lake, on the western outskirts of town, particularly hard.

“I think the worst of the storm was the person getting killed,” said Mayor Archie Campbell. “I actually knew the person, so I feel terrible.”

He said the woman, who was a friend of his wife Veronica, was cleaning debris from her lakeside property on North Shore Road when she was struck by a falling tree branch.

Late Wednesday night, the Delaware State Police identified the woman as 73-year-old Gloria Babel. Troopers arrived at the scene around 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday in response to a missing person report. On scene, they made contact with a family-member of Ms. Babel’s who was unable to find her and was concerned by this due to the storm conditions outside.

Upon searching the surrounding area, troopers found that a large tree branch had fallen onto Ms. Babel. She was located underneath, deceased. The Division of Forensic Science will perform an autopsy to determine the manner and cause of death.

Janice Shugard, a neighbor of the deceased near the north shore of the lake, counted herself lucky. She said the damage in her neighborhood, mostly downed branches, was minimal.

“I don’t think we were the worst,” she said. “I think across the lake was much worse.”

Tree damage after high winds from tropical storm Isaias at a property on Meadow Brook Lane. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

On the south side of Haven Lake, a weather event several residents described as tornado-like snapped trees, some of which fell onto people’s homes, including Ethel White’s.

“The wind just started picking up, and my husband said, ‘head for the basement,’” Ms. White said. “We had just gotten down a few steps when the trees started falling.”

Ms. White said the massive trunks came down like dominoes. One large tree fell onto a wing of her house, putting a hole in the roof covering her bedroom and her family room. Her furniture in those rooms were covered in a thick layer of particulate debris.

“That’s insulation and sheet rock that’s fallen,” Ms. White said. “The water just finds its way into places that looked fine when we went to bed. Then when you get up, you can see the individual sheets of sheet rock on the ceiling.”

Two uprooted poplar trees caused structural damage of the family room at the property of Jim and Ethel White on Meadow Brook Lane in Milford during tropical storm Isaias on Tuesday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

That was in addition to the dozens of trees, branches other debris that littered her multi-acre property.

Around the corner, Holly Vanauken’s home was also in poor shape.

“It’s a lot of damage,” she said. “I have several trees down on my house, holes in my roof, there’s water damage inside.”

Ms. Vanaken wasn’t home when the storm got bad, but her 4-year-old son Jameson Beall and her dog Sailor were there with mother Donna Burbidge.

“We were watching the news, and him and I were talking about how it wasn’t very windy right now, but if it got windy, we were going to go in the basement,” Ms. Burbidge said. “All of a sudden, we could tell the wind really picked up and you could just hear it. We ran into the basement, and I had to drag the dog in there.”

Not long after that, the neighbors called Ms. Burbidge to see if she was okay. Although she didn’t see any of the damage happen, when she and Jameson emerged from the basement, they were stunned.

“We didn’t believe it,” she said. “It scared the heck out of me.”

Both Ms. White and Ms. Burbidge remembered a similar storm that passed through in April which knocked down a lot of trees in the area, including in Ms. White’s backyard.

“We had something like this go through the Monday after Easter this year,” Ms. White said. “This is just like overwhelming now, because we’d just gotten it all cleaned up.”

Because in that earlier storm no trees had fallen on her house, that cost of the cleanup was one Ms. White and her husband had to bear without the assistance of their insurance.

“The only thing that insurance covers when it comes to trees is the stuff that effects your actual structure, so the trees that actually fell onto my house, they’ll cover having them removed from the house so you can do the repairs,” Ms. Vanuaken said.

“They’ll cover any debris in the driveway, but if there’s a tree that’s just down in my yard, they’re not going to cover it,” she said.

“The trees that are leaning on other trees that will soon probably fall on my home if I don’t pay to have them removed,” are not covered either, she said “It’s about $1,000 a tree.”

The storm damage left Ms. White overwhelmed.

“Yesterday was a shock and today it’s kind of emotional,” she said. “My husband and I had this house built, and we have a lot of our energy and time in this, so it’s kind of tough.”

Ms. Vanauken said the situation could be worse.

“I’m just thankful that no one was hurt and everyone was safe,” she said. “If you walk around this neighborhood, there’s so much damage, and I’ve heard that people have been killed, so compared to that I’m very lucky.”

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