Storm leaves Dover house condemned

DOVER — It was a frightening moment in time that could’ve led to a much more devastating outcome for the Boris family who live at 196 Merion Road in the Fox Hall neighborhood in west Dover.

That moment occurred when a severe thunderstorm accompanied by nearly 60 mph winds ripped through Dover at around 3 a.m. on Monday, causing a huge tree in the Boris’s backyard to splinter and crack, crashing through the roof of their two-story house.

“In the middle of the night while we were sleeping it sounded basically like a big bomb went off in my house and all I woke up to was my son (Josh Jr.) screaming, ‘Dad, help me!’” Josh Boris said.

“So, I went to his room to find out his whole wall and ceiling was collapsed in with a tree on it. Then I got everybody out of the house immediately.”

Fortunately, the members of the Boris family escaped serious injury.

However, the house they have lived in for about the past five years has been condemned by the city of Dover until repairs can be made.

Mr. Boris said that he, his wife Maria, and 11-year-old son Josh Jr. will be staying with his niece until the house is repaired.

“Basically, the whole back side of the house, three or four rooms, were affected by (the tree collapse),” Mr. Boris said. “Honestly, I thought my house was hit with a bomb.

“The way that it sounded it shook my entire house. The tree that fell was a big one. I’m not sure what kind of tree it is, but it was definitely a big one.

“My wife’s shook up, my 11-year-old son, who was in the room where the tree came down, is pretty shook up. He said, ‘That’s the tree that almost killed me,’ and if (anybody) saw inside of that bedroom they would see why.”

Mr. Boris’s house, along with several of the neighboring homes along Merion Road, appeared to suffer the worst damage due to the series of thunderstorms on Monday that rolled through the Dover area.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service center in Mt. Holly, New Jersey, said no tornadoes were reported in Kent County early Monday morning.

Kevin Sipple, assistant director of emergency communications for Kent County, said most of the county’s residents were fortunate to escape even more serious or possibly deadly damage.

“We had a few wires reported down in the Marydel and Felton areas and we received a few calls in Houston and Milford regarding damage,” Mr. Sipple said.

“But other than that, there was nothing that really stood out compared with the Merion Road incident.”

Damion Abbott, a sales consultant with Bright Side Exteriors, which was making repairs to the roof of the Boris’s home on Tuesday morning, walked across Merion Road and pointed out a path of around five to six large trees that had been uprooted and were lying on the ground facing in the same direction in a forested area behind the homes.

He said it looked like the result of a tornado to him, perhaps a small one, given the narrow path that it cut through the trees.

Mr. Abbott said many of the workers at Bright Side got a first-hand look at the effects of what a tornado can do on Monday when they drove down to Laurel, where the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down early Monday morning, leaving behind a path of destruction for miles, ravaging homes and many other structures in the area.

Officials said an EF-2 tornado, with maximum wind speeds of 120 mph, traveled 6.2 miles from Laurel before it ended in Seaford.

“Actually, most of the crew was down in Laurel (Monday) with the tornadoes, just helping out with the damaged homes,” Mr. Abbott said. “The owner of Bright Side lives just four houses down across the street (on Merion Road) and when he went to work (Monday) he was like, ‘Hey, let’s get in the neighborhood and check on people and see if everybody is OK.’”

On Monday, his main concern was with the Boris’s home and getting it back into working order.

“We’re still waiting on the structural engineer to come out,” said Mr. Abbott.

“We don’t know if the wall’s going to have to come out of the left side (of the house) and right now it’s just a waiting game with the insurance. As soon as they give us the go-ahead, we’ll be out here within days.”

Other houses along Merion Road had broken branches and twigs piled near the street waiting to be picked up Tuesday.

While a couple of other homes along the road suffered some sort of damage, it was the Boris’s house that took the worst hit.

On Tuesday morning, there was still about 20 feet of the remains of the downed tree sticking out of the ground in the family’s backyard as workers tried to cover up the roof with tarp.

Every time Mr. Boris looked up at the damaged roof, all he could think about was how lucky his family was after the thunderstorm came roaring through.

“I definitely want my son to play the lottery,” Mr. Boris said, with a sigh of relief.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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