At least one grocery store in north Dayton was destroyed during the Memorial Day tornadoes, making an already bad food desert problem in the region even worse.

One month later, Old North Dayton businesses more optimistic following tornadoes

A month after the Memorial Dayton tornadoes, crime is down and optimism is up in North Dayton.

Members of the Greater Old North Dayton Business Association met Wednesday at the Amber Rose restaurant on Valley Street, in the heart of an area that had been hit hard by the recent spate of tornadoes.

In North Dayton, residents and businesses continue to take stock, and there is much work to be done. But Matt Tepper, president of the Old North Dayton Neighborhood Association, and Barry Hall, president of the business association, are expressing more optimism than they were immediately after the tornadoes.

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“It’s going to be a long-term process,” Hall said.

But he called the recovery so far, “Amazing.”

“From where we were, everyone not knowing what to do, everyone is just rolling,” Hall said.

Tepper attributes the drop in crime to having what he called “the most active neighborhood watch.”

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Dayton Police Officer Ronald Velez said there have been two looting forays into Grocerylane on Troy Street in the tornadoes’ aftermath, and an incident on Kelley Avenue off Troy Street. Otherwise, he said, crime is down 50 percent compared to last year.

Asked which crimes are down, Velez said: “All crimes.” He attributed the drop in crime to Tepper’s neighborhood work, calling him the “squeaky wheel.”

Tepper is also credited for helping to organize a North Dayton cleanup shortly after the tornadoes that brought out hundreds of volunteers.

Aerial view looking northwest at the nearly 650,000 square foot Dayton Phoenix Group building on Kuntz Road in the Old North Dayton business park. The roof and walls were severely damaged by a tornado on Memorial Day.Construction workers are beginning restoration work. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees

The National Weather Service confirmed 15 tornadoes touched down in the Dayton area on the evening of May 27, and in Montgomery County alone, 2,236 structures were destroyed or left uninhabitable, according to the latest count.

Hall initially estimated that perhaps 1,000 people working in North Dayton had lost jobs as a result of the tornadoes. No new estimate was offered Wednesday, but at least one large manufacturer in the area, Dayton Phoenix, is keeping some 300 workers on the payroll in order not to lose the workers.

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One persistent frustration is that some residents still aren’t aware of local disaster assistance centers, Tepper said. He said some residents still don’t have Internet access or find themselves overwhelmed by other tasks.

FEMA — the Federal Emergency Management Administration — has opened a Disaster Recovery Center at Dayton Children’s Hospital Child Health Pavilion at 1010 Valley St. Its operating hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

FEMA and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency have also opened an office in Beavercreek at Shaw Elementary, 3560 Kemp Road.

Another center is open at Trotwood- Madison High School, 4440 N. Union Road, in Trotwood.

Leo Skinner, a FEMA staffer, told business association members at the Amber Rose that FEMA has an array of grants available to U.S. citizens affected by the tornadoes. He urged people to register at  before visiting a local FEMA center.

Once residents are registered, a FEMA inspector may visit them, Skinner said. Residents may receive a Small Business Administration application, as SBA loans are also available to homeowners and renters, he said.

The deadline to apply for grants for housing repairs, lodging reimbursement and other grants is Aug. 19, Skinner said.

For businesses suffering long-term economic injury due to the May 27 tornadoes, the loan application deadline is March 18, 2020. Those loans will go to businesses perhaps not directly impacted by the tornadoes but nevertheless suffering long-term effects.

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