Volunteers Saturday accepted donations of food and goods, and then distributed those donations to those in need, at Harrison Twp. Fire Station 94, 2400 Turner Road. That relief effort will continue Sunday from noon until 6 pm. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF
Photo: Thomas Gnau
Photo: Thomas Gnau

Neighbors helping neighbors

Across the region, volunteers clear debris, open hearts

Volunteers and neighbors across the Miami Valley continued to pick up the pieces Saturday, hauling away broken trees, donating food and much-needed supplies or simply offering a place for stranded friends to stay.

Nearly two weeks after 15 powerful tornadoes — ranging in power from EFO to EF4 — ripped through the region late on Memorial Day, hundreds of volunteers can be found across the region this weekend, from Harrison Twp. to Beavercreek to Northridge to Dayton, Trotwood, Clayton and well beyond.

A wide swath of Western Ohio was affected by the May 27 tornadoes, from Celina south to Dayton.

In Harrison Twp., volunteer Amy Wiedeman led dozens of residents running a relief effort from township Fire Station 94, 2400 Turner Road. Those who wished to donate food and supplies were directed to one lane driving through the station, while those in need were directed to another drive-through lane.

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Needs are many, but rising to the top of the list were laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, paper towels and toilet paper, size-4 and -5 diapers and food — breakfast foods, high-protein foods such as peanut butter and tuna, and food in easy-to-open containers, Wiedeman said.

She has been gratified so far by the response.

“When we opened the doors at 10 o’clock this morning, I had lines, both for pick-up (of donated goods) and drop-off,” Wiedeman said.

One challenge was organizing donations, creating “food boxes,” and making sure everyone gets something.

“We’re not trying to limit people, but we are trying to make sure we have enough for everyone,” Wiedeman said.

The effort continues Sunday at the same fire station, from noon to 6 p.m.

In Beavercreek, Steve Hone was directing neighbors responding to a call from Beavercreek Twp. Fire Department auxiliary volunteers. From a shopping center off Kemp Road, volunteers were being sent to storm-damaged areas such as Graham and Butterfield drives.

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One main task Saturday was hauling trees and debris to the curb for pick-up. The need was “muscle-power,” Hone said.

“Right now, the community needs to get the — pardon the word — crap out of their back yards,” Hone said.

The challenge was to do it safely in areas that still look like war zones. In this Greene County city, 1,200 homes were damaged and 300 of them were “severely compromised,” Hone said. Hundreds of trees were destroyed, as they were in other affected cities.

“We’ve never had that extent of damage before,” Hone said.

Volunteers are welcome to meet at the Beavercreek Commerce Center, at the corner of Kemp and Grange Hall, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today for more work.

On Butterfield Drive, American Red Cross volunteers were knocking door to door.

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“I’m hearing a lot about food,” volunteer and Findlay resident Holly Blaine said. “They’re needing food and clothes because they lost all the clothes they had.”

“Some are still in shock,” she added. “They just can’t believe it.”

Volunteers were busy in an especially hard-hit subdivision west of Grange Hall Road on Graham. Jennifer Passaro and Charles Shuff could be found hauling limbs and branches from a back yard to the curb.

Passaro said assistance from outside the Dayton area isn’t certain. “It’s gotta be the community,” who pitches in to help, she said.

In Old North Dayton, city crews were using a front-end loader to clear yards and sidewalks of destroyed trees on Macready Avenue off Troy Street.

Work started at 7 a.m., said Sheldon Steele, an equipment operator 3 for the city of Dayton.

“We’re moving along,” Steele said. “We haven’t even started with the (non-tree) debris.”

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