Hundreds of volunteers pitch in to clear away tornado debris in Trotwood

Hundreds of volunteers fanned out across Trotwood on Saturday helping remove debris and secure homes devastated in the EF-4 tornado that hit the city on Monday night, May 27.

“It lets you know that no matter what happens we are all family,” said Anita Shepherd, 53, of Trotwood.

She and Howard Dozier, 70, of Trotwood, said their home was undamaged and so they came to help those whose homes were hit, using his truck to haul away debris in the Shiloh Gardens neighborhood.

RELATED: Looters compound losses of those hardest hit after Memorial Day tornadoes

Across the Dayton region other volunteers were doing the same, as the community came together to help out after 15 tornadoes touched down in multiple counties during that storm.

RELATED: Community-by-community assessment of tornado damage: What they are saying

Along roadways, multiple churches and other groups had set up tables and offered free food, clothing and water. In neighborhoods like Shiloh Gardens in Trotwood, volunteers carried supplies to residents and the volunteers working on clean-up.

“If we don’t help each other then what?” said Edie White-Figgers, 50, of Dayton who was with a group from Kindred Hospital delivering bags of food, water and hygiene products to residents and volunteers in Trotwood.

RELATED: Stories of Survival: Barr Family Farm is hit by two tornadoes since April 2018

Volunteers left from a staging area at Trotwood-Madison High School, shuttling in district buses into neighborhoods with plans to methodically go from house to house clearing debris and piling it beside the street for other workers to come remove.

“I want individuals to know that hundreds of people are coming into their community to work with them,” said Frederick Cox, who was coordinating the Trotwood site for Living City Project, one of many groups involved in clean-up efforts across the region.

RELATED: Stories of Survival: ‘I thought I was done. I thought I was going to get swept away.’

“What I am hoping is that they feel like other people care. They woke up and their lives were completely different on Tuesday. On Saturday I want them to be renewed,” Cox said.

Sheena Johnson, 37, of Dayton brought her 12-year-old son, Byron, to help in Trotwood.

“I think it’s important for the children to do that, to take care of the neighborhood.” she said. “Kids need to see that they’re getting everyting and its best for them to be unselfish. It’s best for them to give back.”

As the sun blazed, volunteers lifted away broken fences, tacked tarps onto open roofs, raked away chunks of wood and insulation, swept up broken window glass, sawed and loaded trees into trucks and tried to make headway after the disaster.

“I have raked up my yard with complete strangers. We’ve shared stories, water bottles, hugs. I can’t even explain the kindness and the generosity of people I’ve never seen in my life,” said Donna Harrison, 59, whose Bromwick Drive home in Trotwood is boarded up after being hit by the tornado.

“And they come and whatever they can do they’re willing to do. It’s a good world we live in,” Harrison said. “Despite everything we and my neighbors are going through, my heart is glad.”

RELATED: Trotwood apartment complex catches fire as community recovers from EF-4 tornado

Across the street, Tom Long of Clayton was using his chainsaw to cut downed tree limbs.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Long, a city of Oakwood engineering tech who previously did that job in Trotwood. “I’m going to cut up as much as I can and haul away what I can.”

A few blocks away, volunteers wearing orange Samaritan’s Purse shirts tacked down shingles and a tarp on a roof of a home at the corner of Knollcroft Road and Weddington Drive.

“Look up and down the street, its incredible how many people are helping,” said Brenda Lynn, 49, of Springfield who was with other volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse.

RELATED: Stories of survival: ‘I got my rosary and my husband’s urn and just prayed’

Isaac Kelley, 17, a Thurgood Marshall High School student, was helping at another house.

“It’s an awesome feeling to be out here,” Kelley said. “I’m really happy I can give back.”

Paris Minniefield, 42, rode out the tornado huddled in the bathroom of his rented home on Weddington Drive as the tornado demolished his garage and tore off his roof.

““Everything they say about a tornado is true. It sounded like a train coming through,” Minniefield said. “I’ve never been as terrified in my life.”

He and his friend Shawn Heflin, 54, of Dayton were cleaning up the mess and marveling at the army of people who had come to the neighborhood to help.

“You get a tornado disaster that brings the whole Dayton community together,” said Heflin. “It’s beautiful.”

Restoring electric power

The latest Dayton Power and Light update on Saturday said:

• Power restored to 86 percent of 70,000 impacted customers.

• Plan was to have 90 percent restored by midnight Saturday.

• The remaining 10 percent of customers without power have extensive damage that will require repair or reconstruction before power can be restored.

• Nearly 1,600 workers are working on restoring power.

• More than 700 poles have been replaced

Source: Dayton Power and Light

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