Wright-Patterson buildings, Riverside shopping center damaged by tornado, storms

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and parts of Riverside were damaged by strong storms and a tornado early this morning.

The National Weather Service in Wilmington confirmed a tornado in Riverside that continued into Greene County before weakening. Additional information about the tornado, including the wind speeds and track data, will be available later today.

WPAFB received wind damage on several buildings in Area B, a spokesman said.

“Our initial assessment from this morning’s storm is the damage is isolated to the southern side of Area B. Our initial focus right now is on safety and damage assessment,” said Col. Travis Pond, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander. “I can’t speak highly enough about our security forces, fire department and civil engineer Airmen for their quick response and hard work to assess damage and determine a path forward for restoring operations as quickly as possible.”

An older hangar and another building received structural and window damage in Area B, which is located near the Air Force Museum.

Base workers are inspecting the damage and the base will release more information later today.

Out of precaution, the base closed Gate 22B on Area B near Interstate 675. It has since reopened and is back to normal operations.

High winds downed trees and caused power outages in Riverside with reports of damage in various neighborhoods, in and around Airway Road from near Greene County to the Dayton city limits, city officials said.

The Airway Shopping Center in Riverside had damage to storefronts and broken glass.

Storms also caused electrical outages and other damage at at the shopping center at the intersection of Airway and Woodman drives, according to a dispatcher.

“We have trees and lines down all over,” the dispatcher said, noting that residents of Barrett and Travis drives reported damage, as the neighborhoods around Airway near the Dayton border, including Meyer and Hayden avenues and Lynnhaven Drive.

Similar damage was also reported on Eisenhower Drive across Airway in the Overlook neighborhood, Riverside City Manager Josh Rauch said.

“We probably didn’t catch the brunt of it that they did in Clark County,” Rauch said. “It appears to be a lot of straight-line winds that came thorough, particularly around Airway and Woodman.”

He also said emergency medical service crews responded to reports of some injuries, but no deaths have been reported.

Rauch said the city has not had any communication with the National Weather Service.

“The system was moving so fast that I think we just really caught the front end as it was starting to form and rotate,” he said. “We haven’t had a whole lot of response that’s required with outside agencies.

“It’s mostly just been us picking up the (debris) that are leftover,” Rauch added. “So, fortunately we didn’t get hit as hard as some other places.”

Clean up is “ongoing,” he said. Service crews were out about 5 a.m. to clear debris “and that’s been progressing since that time.”

Rauch said he expects clean up to continue in the afternoon and “certainly by the end of the day we should be pretty much be back in shape.”

Fire officials said a business in the Airway Shopping Center had furniture fly out through a window and out of the store, he said. Furniture was scattered inside the business, Rauch said.

Damage was also reported at a car wash in the shopping center and a fast-food restaurant reported a sign damaged, he said.

Peggy Henthorn, property manager of the Airway Shopping Center, said the storm knocked out some of the storefront glass at Big Lots and Yumi Boba Tea.

Henthorn, who lives in Piqua, said she received a notification from the property’s alarm company around 5 a.m. alerting her of a power surge on the site.

“I turned on the news and they kept talking about (severe weather) in the city of Riverside, so I thought, ‘Oh boy, this is not going to be good,’” she recalled.

No one was at the shopping center at the time.

“Everybody is working as a good team to get up and running again,” Henthorn said. “Nobody was hurt. That was our big concern.”

AES Ohio was at the shopping center this morning working to restore power to the stores.

Henthorn said Big Lots planned reopening by 2 p.m.

Two homes on Airway Road were struck by falling trees and trees were also down in Wright-Patterson off-base housing on Spinning Road, Riverside police Maj. Matthew Sturgeon said.

Carol Gable lives on Spinning Road in Riverside, a few houses down from a home that sustained substantial damage from a fallen tree during this morning’s storm.

Gable, along with her daughter Aimee and grandson Benjamin, took cover in the home’s interior bathroom around 4 a.m. after receiving phone alerts urging residents in the area to shelter in place.

Having experienced the Memorial Day tornadoes that damaged her neighborhood in 2019 and caused significant damage throughout Dayton and the Miami Valley, Gable and her family took the warnings seriously.

The three stayed in the bathroom for about an hour and a half, Gable said, during which time she believed a tornado was nearby based on the sounds she heard.

“It was horrible and scary,” she said, describing the sounds as similar to that of a freight train. “It was really loud, but it didn’t last too long but then it was gone.”

Despite a backyard full of debris from fallen trees and a scary wake up call, Gable was happy to report that she and her family made it through the early morning storms unscathed.

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