Efforts underway to repair storm-damaged William Henry Middle School

A camera drone captured the damage to William Henry Middle School from above. (Submitted photo/City of Dover)

DOVER — As Tropical Storm Isaias passed through Delaware — leaving flooding, snapped trees and downed wires in its wake — it also caused significant damage to William Henry Middle School.

“It was quite tragic to see. It almost rained inside the building,” said interim assistant superintendent and chief financial officer Adewunmi Kuforiji at a school board meeting Thursday.

Two sections of the roof were impacted. Mr. Kuforiji explained that panels on top of the gym’s roof opened, causing rain to get into the building.

In the lobby area, down toward the library, the entire roof was lost in both spaces, he said. The Office of the Fire Marshal deemed the building unsafe, but the district expressed its intentions of preserving the school.

Delaware Emergency Management Agency and the state’s insurance coverage office were at the site Wednesday morning, along with others looking at the necessary repairs, he said.

“We’re going to have a structural engineer come out as well and assess the damage. In the meantime as of [Thursday], the gymnasium roof has been covered,” Mr. Kuforiji said. “All the water has been sucked out of the gymnasium and dehumidifiers are running … Most of the ceiling tiles that have fallen beyond have been cleaned out.”

The district hopes to get the “middle section” that sustained roof damage covered temporarily as well.

“I know the insurance coverage office is moving as fast as they can, sort of figure out what we need to do next and what they will be doing next which will dictate what we will do next. And so once we get to those decisions, we’ll take the necessary action,” he said. “It’s purely speculation on whether or not we think we can do or not do things.”

The middle school recently served as one of the sites for Capital’s summer boost program, where students were able to return to school for in-person learning.

Serving the fifth- and sixth-graders in the district, William Henry has approximately 1,000 students spread across over 37 homerooms, according to the school’s site.

William Henry Middle School was originally the William Henry Comprehensive High School, the only high school for Black students in Dover. It opened in September 1952 and was founded during segregation. The school closed after the 1965-66 school year, after the Supreme Court ruling to integrate schools.

The school’s namesake is William W.M. Henry, the first Black physician in Dover.

In September 1967, the high school became William Henry Middle School and opened to fifth and sixth grade students.