Vectren underground construction technicians Chris Grigsby, left, and Derek Hartley disconnect gas service to this tornado ravaged home on Rushton Drive in Beavercreek where dozens of homes were destroyed by the Memorial Day tornado. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees
Photo: Ty Greenlees

Beavercreek’s Fourth: Tornado ‘reminds us how precious a community and life is’

For people in a dozen local communities ravaged by Memorial Day tornadoes, this Fourth of July holiday week offers many contrasts in recovery efforts, including how they observe the holiday itself.

Two of the hardest-hit areas came to different decisions regarding their annual fireworks shows. Beavercreek decided to move ahead with its celebrations, while Trotwood postponed its events.

Beavercreek City Manager Pete Landrum said the lives of those affected are far from being back to normal, but the city’s Fourth of July parade and fireworks display Thursday will be a way for residents to take their minds off the damage for a day.

“It definitely is going to be a unity call to the community as far as rallying around one another. Every holiday after a disaster like that reminds us how precious a community and life is,” Landrum said. “It will be somber, but we will be celebrating together, which is vital for this area.”

PHOTOS: Trotwood one month after tornado, on the ground and from the air

Trotwood decided to delay its fireworks show until Sept. 27.

“Our community has definitely rallied around one another in these weeks after the tornadoes hit,” Trotwood City Manager Quincy Pope said. “We’re still in the restoration and recovery phase right now, which is why we’ve decided to do our fireworks show during our annual Family Reunion weekend.”

The Dayton Daily News asked leaders in the affected communities for progress reports one month after 15 tornadoes struck southwest Ohio on May 27, including what has changed in the weeks since then and what the biggest remaining needs and concerns are going forward. 

MORE: What Beavercreek tells property owners about debris removal

Landrum said Beavercreek now expects to spend at least $2 million on costs related to the EF3 that hit there. Beavercreek is one of only three Ohio cities without an income tax, creating unique challenges in funding recovery efforts, according to Landrum.

MORE: Miami Valley Tornadoes: Stories of survival

The EF4 tornado that hit Trotwood damaged 419 buildings and roughly 850 multi-family units. Pope estimated several thousand Trotwood residents were affected, making transitional housing the city’s top priority.

“Currently, we are just looking for strategies to bring our people home and offer them relief with the help of FEMA,” Pope said.

MORE: Trotwood tornado damaged 419 buildings, roughly 850 multi-family units

Elsewhere, Miami County’s FEMA disaster recovery office just opened Friday, but the Montgomery County offices had helped process nearly 2,500 applications in a week’s time.

FEMA approved about $1.9 million in assistance for 731 victims through its Individuals and Households Program.

And $1.9 million is what Dayton officials said the city had spent just through June 20 on costs related to tornadoes.

The Old North Dayton area bore the brunt of the damage, but Dayton had more than 1,000 units destroyed, damaged or affected by the storms. The figure includes single-family houses, duplexes, apartments and businesses.

PHOTOS: One month after tornadoes, Beavercreek recovery continues

Debris in some areas of Troy Street and Kelly Avenue looks relatively untouched since the tornadoes hit.

Curbside cleanup of vegetation and woody debris will continue through July 8, according to the city. After that, residents will have to schedule a pickup or take that debris to the city’s green landfill at 2670 Wagner Ford Rd.

Butler Twp., meanwhile, has ended its brush removal work and is planning to remove the dumpsters from the neighborhoods. Like many other local governments, the township will waive permit fees for residential reconstruction from tornado damage.

About 200 buildings sustained damage in Butler Twp., and township officials estimated spending about $185,000 so far on cleanup.

Vandalia also shifted from cleanup to recovery, noting that it will take time.

“In some cases, damage cannot be repaired until contractors are secured. With the extent of the damage, we know finding qualified contractors will take some time, as there is a tremendous need in the area,” a city statement read.

In Riverside, where about 390 residential properties and a handful of businesses were damaged, officials said most of the debris in the right of ways has been removed.

PHOTOS: Old North Dayton one month after tornadoes

In Clayton, where about 100 residential and business buildings were damaged, city crews no longer are putting in overtime as they did the first weeks after the tornadoes. City leaders said the biggest priority now was to help residents and businesses that needed aid connected with potential resources for long-term recovery.

Because only the southern portion of the city was hit, officials now are able to direct groups asking to help to neighboring communities facing more significant recovery ahead.

One of those areas in need is Harrison Twp., where more than 400 buildings were destroyed in what township officials called catastrophic damage. The township welcomed the recent arrival of FEMA and noted power crews are still out working in some neighborhoods.

The township is still collecting donations at Fire Station #94, where food items, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, paper towels, feminine hygiene products and toilet paper are being gathered.

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