1 month later: Businesses bounce back from Tipp City tornado



TIPP CITY — A month after a tornado hit the northern part of Tipp City, work continues on fixing damage, and property owners continue expressing thanks for those who assisted during what one business owner called “a terrible experience.”

The National Weather Service said after its assessment of the June 8 storm that the tornado strengthened as it approached Tipp City from the west, damaging utility poles and residences near West Kessler-Cowlesville and Peters roads. It continued to strengthen as it headed toward Interstate 75.

Hardest hit by the tornado was a Meijer Distribution Center warehouse at County Road 25A and Kessler-Cowlesville Road, where damage in the area was consistent with winds of around 120 mph, the Weather Service said.

Dozens of employees were working inside at the time, but no one was hurt after warnings were heeded and employees gathered in designated safe places, according to Meijer officials.

Within 24 hours of the storm damaging the building, the Meijer complex was back in full operation, said Frank Guglielmi, senior director, corporate communications for Meijer.



“In fact, none of the Meijer stores serviced by our Tipp City distribution complex missed a delivery. Additionally, the specific building damaged by the storm was operational again within seven days,” Guglielmi said.

Meijer declined to provide any specifics on damage or costs for cleanup, which is still ongoing.

“Repairs have been underway at the building for several weeks and the complex is operating normally. Our team at Tipp City has done an amazing job, both protecting our team during the storm and quickly getting the facility back to full speed,” he said.

The city of Tipp City, whose fire and EMS crews, police, electric and street departments were among those responding to the tornado, has not put together any formal analysis of the costs to the city.

“I don’t believe our additional costs were significant,” said city Finance Director John Green. “We had some overtime costs spread out across all departments, but the only physical damage to city property I can remember was one electric pole that needed to be replaced,” he said.

He made a rough estimate of $10,000 to $12,500 for overtime for crews.

“We’re thankful there wasn’t more damage, and we hope the companies involved have great success working with their insurance companies and getting back in operation,” Green said.

The Miami County Emergency Management Agency did not calculate a dollar loss cost estimate because the amount of damage did not prompt an emergency declaration, said Joel Smith, county EMA director.

The agency is still tracking that the most extensive damage was limited to four commercial properties: Meijer, plus three at Industry Park Court, he said.

RepaCorp was one of three businesses damaged by the tornado after it moved across Interstate 75 and into an industrial area to the east.

The response of police, fire, friends, neighbors and contractors the evening of the tornado, and after, was impressive, said Rick Heinl, RepaCorp president.

“When you walk in and see the ceiling gone and electrical wiring hanging down, you freak out,” Heinl said.

About 20 employees were working inside RepaCorp when the tornado struck. They ran for cover of designated storm shelter areas as the damage was occurring. No one was injured.

Local businesses including Bruns Construction, whose offices are located not far away, helped get the building buttoned up quickly and to find materials.

The estimated damage at the company exceeds $1 million to the building and some equipment. Surprisingly, paper inside was not damaged, Heinl said.

He and his family, who own the business, are grateful for all the support and assistance.

“I saw an awful lot of good from a lot of people,” Heinl said. “It has been a terrible experience to go through, but when you see the goodness in people, you feel better.”

Members of the Miami County Building Inspection Department were on call the night of the tornado to help with structural safety concerns and getting power back on safely as soon as possible, said Rob England, chief building official.

A report on permits issued for repairs following the tornado was not available Thursday. The department waived all permit fees related to the tornado damage.

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