One of two rare Ohio January tornadoes hit Troy without warning late Saturday night, according to the fire chief, taking a direct line northeast through the city in damaging several businesses and dozens of residences.
The EF0 tornado came a few minutes before another EF0 struck Fletcher northeast of Troy on a night when high winds also caused damage in downtown Dayton, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and in other Miami Valley communities.
The Troy twister was not detected prior to cutting through town just after 10 p.m., beginning at South Dorsett and Arthur roads before ending its run near Cookson Elementary School and Maplecrest Drive, Troy Fire Chief Matthew Simmons said Monday.
Said one resident, “I had no time to react whatsoever.”
The Troy tornado, traveling up to 80 miles per hour, was the strongest of the two. It hit a number of businesses - many of them downtown – before causing at least some damage to “dozens, if not hundreds” of residences, but causing no reported injuries, Simmons said.
“There’s going to be some long-term issues that we’re going to have to deal with,” he said. “But we’re going to work together.”
The two Miami County tornadoes are the seventh and eighth recorded in January in Ohio since 1950, records show. They account for half of those storms to hit the Miami Valley in the first month of the year the past 70 years, according to the National Weather Service.
While no damage estimates have been released, Simmons said he does not think the city will qualify for state or federal assistance.
The Miami County Emergency Management Agency EMA “doesn’t feel that we’ll reach the threshold set by state and federal regulations” for outside financial help.
The county EMA was part of a storm damage survey conducted Sunday with the National Weather Service, Director Joel Smith said in an email.
“I am hesitant to use a single word to define the damage,” Smith said. “It was ‘light’ in comparison with how bad it could have been, or how bad other recent storms have been.”
Simmons said he thinks “it’s going to take more than few days” to put a dollar amount on the damage.
But, he said, roofs on “at least nine businesses downtown” were damaged and the number of residential properties that have sustained at least minimal damage “has to be in the dozens, if not hundreds.”
Greg Vogel’s home is among them. Located in the path Simmons described, the longtime Troy resident’s Drury Lane property lost three trees as the tornado “shook the house up pretty good.”
“The storm went right through the two houses there,” Vogel said. “Me and the dog was outside. We walked in the front door and it hit. Didn’t know what it was. It sounded like a freight train.
“It’s cracked every wall in our house, the ceiling. It tore down the chimney,” he added. “The chimney went through the back of the house.”
Staunton Road resident Scott Conner said he was preparing for bed “when out of nowhere the tornado hit. I had no time to react whatsoever….just as fast as it came, it was gone.”
The tornado covered more than three miles through the city in two minutes, according to the National Weather Service.
The funnel cloud went undetected by weather service radar, but was picked up afterward by Federal Aviation Administration monitors, Simmons said.
“It came fast and the warning came after it already happened,” he said. “We are very, very fortunate that we have not have not had any report of any injuries. In fact, we’re blessed in that regard.”
Saturday night crews focused on “life safety” issues, ensuring residents were safe, and gas and utility lines posed no dangers, Simmons said.
The county also opened an Emergency Operations Center in the Hobart Center in Troy and communication was initiated with the Red Cross and the state EMA, according to Smith.
On Sunday, priorities included clearing roadways, debris and restoring power, Simmons added.
Troy officials were meeting Monday afternoon to map out the road ahead, Simmons and Smith said.
“The Red Cross was postured to provide sheltering services; however, no residents dislocated from the apartments in Troy elected to use Red Cross Services. The Red Cross continues to be on call for case-by-case support,” according to Smith.
Wind damage was also reported across Greene and Montgomery counties, including in Trotwood, Huber Heights, downtown Dayton and Wright-Patterson.
Assessments were in progress Monday at Wright-Patterson, where wind speeds as high as 83 mph were recorded Saturday night, according to the weather service’s Wilmington office.
By Monday afternoon, Wright-Patt officials had not responded to inquiries about damage assessments.
Meanwhile, wind debris continued to keep the Greater Dayton RTA’s Wright Stop Plaza closed Monday.
The plaza closed late Saturday and is expected to remain that way until this morning, the RTA announced on its Twitter page.
Buses were boarding at Third Street and Main Street, according to the RTA.
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