3 months after Memorial Day tornado outbreak, Dayton couple living out of a car

Amee Ranta and fiance Bill Moore, in between looking for housing and awaiting appeals to FEMA, play their guitars to pass the hours until it bedtime -- when they hunker down in a car parked beside a friend’s home in Dayton.

“I’ve learned some things from this,” Ranta told News Center 7’s Sean Cudahy on Wednesday night. “One of them is the real meaning of the word disaster. It’s one thing to lose a car. It’s another to lose everything you own.”

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Ranta and Moore were all set to move from their apartment on Bellefontaine Avenue in Dayton to a small house. That was Memorial Day night. Hours later, all they had left was a mattress, and a grandmother and four grandchildren who managed to get to the basement minutes before the twister.

“I don’t know if those people would be alive if we hadn’t done that,” Ranta said. “We went upstairs and everything was gone.”

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The landlord allowed them to say, she said, but gave them an eviction notice about 12 days later because the rent hadn’t be paid.

A few days later, with Moore in a hospital suffering from respiratory issues, Ranta said a FEMA official denied their claim and suggested they apply for a loan. Ranta said that wouldn’t work because she didn’t have a job and Moore’s disability payments weren’t enough.

>> Coverage of the Memorial Day tornado outbreak

Ranta said they had a house lined up, but that fell through when the landlord asked for more rent than they could afford. They checked out a trailer park in the area of North Main Street and Nottingham, but learned it was a rent-to-own enterprise.

“Is FEMA here to help people or not?” she asked.

They have stayed with friends. They have stayed with her youngest son’s family in Centerville (“we would sleep on the floor, the couch. I felt like a hindrance,” she said).

“We didn’t have the gas money to keep doing that,” Ranta said of the Dayton-to-Centerville treks.

Nowadays, they pull into a lot beside a friend’s house in Dayton, near their old neighborhood, and sleep in the car. She has to stay close to the Dayton address for mail from FEMA.

“I just want something we can afford,” Ranta said. “A place to lay our head.”

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