Boarded and tarp covered homes along Rolfe Ave. in Harrison Twp. nearly a month after suffering damage from the Memorial Day tornado. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees
Photo: Ty Greenlees

Volunteer effort helps seal up tornado-impacted homes before winter

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dayton Daily News reporters Chris Stewart and Josh Sweigart — joined at times by Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs — are traveling the length of the largest of the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes. It tore a path across Montgomery County, impacting thousands of homes and businesses. We are gathering people’s stories and investigating obstacles to recovery. This story is part of that coverage. Go here for the full project.


The Miami Valley Long Term Recovery Operations Group is planning an event to help property owners seal up their tornado-damaged property before winter hits.

Memorial Day tornadoes damaged thousands of area properties and hundreds of businesses, many of which were covered in blue tarps and boarded up in the wake of the storm but still aren’t repaired for numerous reasons.

WALKING THE PATH OF THE STORM: At least 750 homes still empty in Trotwood after tornado

“Many of the tarps that went on immediately post-disaster have become loose or damaged, and while people are waiting for insurance, contractors, volunteer assistance to do permanent repairs, we want to make sure they’re safe,” said Laura Mercer, director of the recovery group.

Property owners who need help with roof tarping and boarding of windows can call (937) 966-0037 to request assistance by Nov. 13. That number is only for that service.

Tornado survivors in Montgomery, Greene and Miami counties with other disaster-related needs are urged to call the United Way helpline at 211.

LISTEN: Walking the Path of the Storm Podcast

Volunteers will then be needed to help seal up homes throughout November, including at a Button-Up for Winter Weekend on Nov. 15 and 16. Those interested can sign up at under the volunteer tab.

The recovery group, a consortium of nonprofits leading disaster recovery efforts, has volunteers canvassing hard-hit neighborhoods with door hangers promoting the imitative.

John Pyron, who is helping coordinate the event as director of Lutheran Social Services disaster services, said it’s vital to seal up damaged properties before wet winter weather.

INTERACTIVE: Map shows thousands of tornado damaged properties in 3-county area

“Water will find its way into a house no matter what, and if you don’t stop that water and have some kind of barrier, you get rot in boards, more importantly you get mildew, mold, which then creates all kinds of health hazards, it shorts out electric circuits,” he said.

Furthermore, he said, poorly sealed windows and roofs send heating costs skyrocketing for residents, many of whom already are struggling financially since the storm.

“Ideally we’d be able to get a roof on the house,” he said, “but recognizing limited resources, limited capacity as far as people to do it, limited contractors, I think (the) best thing is button it up for now.”

INVESTIGATION: ‘Disaster after the disaster:’ Fighting insurance over tornado damage

Tornado survivors: Tell us what you need on the path to recovery

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