Numerous businesses sustained damage after an EF-1 tornado hit Beavercreek May 26. 
Photo: Marshall Gorby
Photo: Marshall Gorby

Greene County tornado recovery will take months

No time for a warning in Beavercreek, officials say.

It took less than a minute for an EF-1 tornado with winds up to 105 mph to overturn cars, uproot trees and rip an air handler off a building and send it crashing into a parking lot.

It will take months for some to recover from Tuesday night’s tornado that hit a Beavercreek retail district and nearby neighborhood, but one Greene County official said that still will be quicker than similar natural disasters in the area.

“It’s usually a long process,” said Rosanne Anders, the Greene County Emergency Management Agency director. “In Beavercreek, it was fewer houses and the damage was lots of trees and roofs. Some of the businesses lost their awnings and had windows shattered. Because of the limited population affected, it will speed up the recovery period, of course.”

FitWorks, a gym, had the worst damage and will be closed indefinitely, according to Greene County records.

Seven other businesses in the Greene Crossing Shopping Center experienced minimal damage, and no significant damage to residential homes was reported.

The tornado was 70 yards wide and traveled a half-mile, according to the National Weather Service.

Beavercreek does not use tornado sirens to notify residents of severe weather. However, meteorologists and emergency professionals said that even if the city used that type of equipment, it might not have been helpful Tuesday.

“We rely on technology including radio, weather stations, phone apps and broadcast media to make notifications,” said Mike Thonnerieux, Beavercreek public administrative services director.

Weather forecasts for Tuesday did not include the possibility for a tornado.

“This was not a classic setup for a tornado in general, so the National Weather Service would not have seen the tornado rotation like we would normally see with super cells,” WHIO Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs said.”This was a situation where we had strong straight-line winds, a down draft within a thunderstorm, and it interacted with small little rotations at the surface. All you need is a little bit of something like that to create a little bit of a spin up.”

The recovery process and assigning a monetary value to the damage as a result of the tornado could take six months or more to complete, Anders said.

“People will file their claims, get their repairs done and sometimes the repairs are more than what the insurance assess it for and then they’ll go back and ask for additional money from their insurance companies,” she said.

The tornado that struck Beavercreek this week came a little more than a year after a tornado with 145 mph winds demolished Roger and Pam Dobbins’ Cedarville Twp. home on May 14, 2014. It took the Dobbins almost a year to move into their new home.

The Cedarville Twp. tornado destroyed two homes and damaged three others, Anders said.

That EF-3 tornado caused nearly $1 million damage, according to the Ohio Insurance Institute.

On Tuesday, as many as 22 cars in the parking lot at Greene Crossing Shopping Center were damaged. Most had windows blown out, but at least five vehicles were lifted or overturned and significantly damaged. Two injuries —both reportedly not life-threatening —occurred in two of the vehicles that were rolled.

The Greene Town Center’s surveillance cameras captured the unexpected tornado as it developed, and the footage was shared widely on social media.

FitWorks employees reported they saw the tornado heading in their direction before running from the window to the back of the building for safety.

Hancock Fabrics, Sake and Kmart had minor damage, according to county records. Kmart was open as of 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

A roof top unit on LA Fitness, in The Greene Town Center, was “disturbed,” according to county documents. The building has a crushed duct and drainage screes were removed from roof drains.

On Tuesday evening, Beavercreek dispatched road crews to help clear debris to make sure emergency vehicles and law enforcement could access the shopping center and surrounding area. The crews also cleared right-of-ways in the area.

Crews reported the majority of the damage in neighborhoods came in backyards.

As those crews drove through neighborhoods to assess the damage in the Vineland Trail area, one thing that stood out was residents helping one another, said Thonnerieux.

“It was amazing the number of neighbors reaching out to each other and helping each other … It really goes to speak to the spirit of Beavercreek,” he said.

No injuries were reported in the Vineland Trail area, but residents were forced to spend the night in the dark. Dayton Power and Light crews spent most of the morning repairing utility poles and power lines.

Joe Ollier, his wife and their four kids were inside their Vineland trail home, watching the sky, when the tornado hit Tuesday.

“You can’t prepare for 30 seconds of mayhem,” he said. “Really. That’s what it was. Just nuts. My daughter goes, ‘There goes our birdhouse. There goes our tree. There goes the power.’ It was that quick.”

Residents with significant damage to their homes can contact the Greene County Auditor’s Office, 937-562-5065, to have their property value reassessed.

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