Woman survived Xenia tornadoes and Memorial Day tornadoes

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Monday, May 27, 2019, started off as a day of celebration for Cathy Masters, because her granddaughter was born that day and she spent a lot of time on the phone sharing congratulations with relatives.

But later that night the 56-year-old Beavercreek resident got a call from her brother, who was worried because the weather did not look good.

She switched on the TV news and instantly realized she was in danger because the meteorologist was panicked and nearly sobbing as she warned residents about tornadoes that were touching down nearby.

Masters grabbed her 2-year-old grandson, her two daughters and her three dogs and raced to the bathroom.

Within seconds of getting inside, Masters said her whole house began to shake and she heard a terrible but familiar sound of wind whipping around at incredible speeds. She said it sounded like multiple freight trains were going past all at once from every direction.

“I was kind of terrified and I said I didn’t want that to be my children’s last moments,” she recalled recently, with tears welling in her eyes. “I was singing, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ to them and I was trying to make it a good experience.”

Masters already understood that severe weather can come with an awful cost.

As a child, she went into a coma after being seriously injured during the Xenia tornado in 1974.

Masters, whose family home was destroyed by the Xenia twister, knew multiple people who died in that disaster, including some family friends.

First Xenia, then Beavercreek

Cathy Masters was a child when she experienced her first tornado.

Her family’s home in the Arrowhead subdivision in Xenia was wiped out by a F5 tornado 50 years ago.

The storm killed about 35 people, and Masters said she knew most of the children who died, including a 7-year-old boy named Robbie Miller.

Masters had been playing at his home earlier that day. Robbie’s mother also did not survive.

Masters said she had PTSD after she was seriously injured by the storm. She went to a child psychologist who tried to comfort her by saying that was very likely the one and only time she would ever encounter such a destructive natural disaster.

But that prediction was proven wrong 45 years later.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Masters and her husband, Danny Masters, live on Knoll Road in Spicer Heights, which is a middle-class Beavercreek neighborhood that is full of split-level and ranch-style homes.

The Memorial Day storm threw Danny Masters’ pick-up truck, which was parked in his driveway, into the street.

Danny Masters said their home suffered about $30,000 in damage. The roof, ramp, back porch, garage door, shutters, mailbox and gutters had to be replaced.

The neighborhood looked like something out of a disaster movie, he said. But he said he’s very grateful that it wasn’t worse.

“It didn’t seem real,” he said.

Cathy Masters said natural disasters, like the Xenia and the Memorial Day tornadoes, leave a mark on people’s psyches and can cause emotional scars.

Even one of Masters’ dogs, “Buddy,” was affected by the Memorial Day twisters. When he hears weather alerts play on the TV news, the Fox Terrier gets distressed and runs to the bathroom to seek safety.

“I’ve not enjoyed the past few weeks,” she said, in reference to the multiple tornadoes that have hit Ohio communities this year as well, plus the tornado warnings that have been issued for the local region.

“It feels like there’s been tornadoes somewhere every day, and it keeps coming closer to us. I still get in a panic, but try not to. I say, ‘If you’ve been through two, surely it can’t be three.’ You don’t want a third-times-the charm situation.”

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