Two of the biggest areas of concern for Trotwood’s tornado recovery efforts are housing and if displaced students will come back to the city school district.
That is what more than 100 people who turned out Monday night learned in an open community forum about recovery efforts from the Memorial Day tornado that caused widespread damage in Trotwood.
Four tornadoes touched down in Montgomery County in the late evening of May 27, causing major damage in several communities, including Brookville, Butler Twp., Clayton, Dayton, Harrison Twp., Riverside, Trotwood and Vandalia.
Mayor Mary McDonald said Monday she would focus on helping people recover from the disaster that left 36 structures destroyed, 175 structures with major damage and another 207 structures reporting other damages.
“The powerful tornado that tore through our beloved Trotwood left nothing short of devastation,” she said. “Lives were disrupted and hundreds of families lost everything.”
She cited help from the faith community, plus local and state politicians and the White House.
“We ask for long-term recovery support,” McDonald said.
City officials have identified housing as Trotwood’s greatest need in the road to recovery. The city is in the process of collecting data to provide an approximate estimate of damages, but estimate it will be millions of dollars in losses, citing Woodland Hills and Westbrooke Village apartments as examples.
McDonald, along with a host of city officials and residents made it clear they were hoping federal assistance would make its way to Trotwood sooner than later.
Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that Ohio will receive federal assistance for individuals in 10 counties impacted by tornadoes, severe storms, straight-line winds, flooding, and landslides last month.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a disaster declaration for federal assistance for individuals and businesses after 21 tornadoes touched down during the severe storms that passed through Ohio during the evening of May 27 and early morning of May 28.
The presidential declaration allows the state to apply to for crisis counseling assistance, disaster unemployment assistance, and disaster case management help.
Individuals and businesses impacted from the storms can register for FEMA assistance online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 (TTY 1-800-462-7585).
Rev. Chris Hall of the Trotwood Missional Community Church said he doesn’t think many who were displaced in Trotwood will have the financial ability to move back to the community.
Hall said affected Trotwood renters became overwhelmed.
“The city of Trotwood just lost a bunch of families who might not come back,” Hall said.
Gail Bracken, a resident of the Salem Bend Condominiums, said her family is one of many that is trying to survive after the violent tornado.
She felt the forum Monday was helpful because of all the resources made available for people seeking answers about debris clean-up, insurance claims and housing.
“I hope we get back soon to some sort of normalcy,” she said. “Everybody is nervous and has been on edge.”
Trotwood Superintendent Tyrone Olverson and School Board President Denise Moore addressed concerns regarding how the school district is responding.
“We currently have 363 students that are displaced,” Moore told the audience.
“We are looking at aggressive measures to make sure that all of those students come back, including transportation, online technology options until families are stable,” Moore said. “We are very confident in our open enrollment, so even when those kids are displaced, they can still attend Trotwood City Schools. We are not leaving any stone unturned in terms of reaching out to our students and their families to let them know we are here to assist.”
Olverson said school officials remain hopeful that students will return and said it is early to determine what kind of financial impact it will have on the district if a majority of the displaced students don’t return.
“We want those students back here,” Olverson said. “The transportation issue is really going to be difficult, but if we have a pocket of students located right here in the west side of Dayton, we will go pick those students up.”