Three tornadoes, zero injuries: ‘It’s a miracle,’ fire chief says

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 5:46 PM

            A tornado damaged businesses in Park Layne in Clark County on Wednesday night. MARSHALL GORBY / STAFF
A tornado damaged businesses in Park Layne in Clark County on Wednesday night. MARSHALL GORBY / STAFF

Clean-up efforts began Thursday after severe weather ripped through the Miami Valley overnight, bringing an outbreak of tornadoes in the north and severe flooding in the south.

Three tornadoes struck Wednesday night — two in Clark County and one in Miami County — the National Weather Service confirmed Thursday, but warnings were issued in Greene, Warren and Preble counties too.

WATCH: 6 videos that show the intense Wednesday storms

No injuries were reported.

“I was extremely surprised,” Bethel Twp. Fire Chief Jacob King said. “It’s a miracle.”

His township included the hardest-hit area, Park Layne, where a confirmed EF1 tornado (with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour) ripped through a Sunoco Gas Station and damaged the Mel-o-Dee Restaurant, Family Dollar and Motor Sports of Dayton.

FORECAST: More severe weather could come this weekend

King said rescue crews had to free a woman from the Family Dollar on South Dayton-Lakeview Road.

“We received a call of a person trapped inside the Family Dollar who said they couldn’t get out of the bathroom of the storage area because the doors were jammed shut,” King said. “Our crews arrived on the scene, did a rampant assessment of the facility, forced entry and was able to rescue that one occupant from the building.”

The person was unharmed, King said, and he was happy to find out no one was hurt during the storm.

RELATED: Beloved restaurant forced to close after damage from tornado

The Mel-O-Dee restaurant could be closed for up to three weeks because of broken air conditioning units and a structural truss damaged. The beloved Clark County restaurant has been open since 1965 and is known for its broaster chicken and other dishes made from scratch.

Larry Shaffer, Clark County Combined Health District, said eight of 10 restaurants were back in business after the storms caused closures.

Another EF1 tornado (about 90 miles per hour) was confirmed about five miles southeast of Piqua.

An EF0 tornado (with maximum winds of 75 miles per hour) tore branches off trees and threw them onto and through mobile homes at McMahan’s Mobile Home. Residents reported extensive damage, including holes in roofs that allowed water to pour right in.

PHOTOS: Aftermath of destructive storms, tornadoes

Residents said they were alerted to the danger by watching Storm Center 7 coverage on WHIO-TV.

“I was watching the news, watching Channel 7 news, and it showed it coming this way and I was looking and said, ‘it’s coming right for this mobile home park,’” said one resident. “That’s when I went outside, the rain stopped and got real calm, and that’s when it hit.”

In Butler County, storm damage included thousands of gallons of water in flooded basements.

Firefighters rescued 15 people, eight adults and seven children, after high water trapped them at Sebald Park in Madison Twp., Butler County Wednesday. Crews said high water cut off access to a bridge in the park, trapping multiple people in the high water.

Those trapped in the park included a pregnant woman and people with medical issues, according to Madison Twp. Fire Department Chief Kent Hall.

Hamilton resident Rebecca Lee called 911 when heavy rains swept up her green Honda Odyssey on Wednesday night between Tabor and Cleveland avenues.

“I got to get out of my car or I am going to drown soon,” Lee said to dispatchers. “I am going to have to get out or die. There is water up to my waist, and it is getting worse and worse.”

Ben Johnson, who lives on Taylor School Road, said he felt “shear panic” as the storms blew through, flooding his basement, destroying appliances and knocking out a door in the basement. He lost a washer, dryer, refrigerator, video games and couch.

“Everything in the basement is gone,” he said after putting on waders.

Staff Writers Parker Perry, Allyson Brown, Jim Ingram, Wayne Baker, Rick McCrabb and the Breaking News Team contributed reporting.


Friday: The day will begin dry with pleasant conditions. Highs will reach the middle 70s with some sunshine early. Scattered storms will develop toward late evening and continue into Friday night. A few storms could be strong as they arrive before weakening late Friday night.

Saturday: Most areas should be dry in the morning, but isolated storms could be triggered in the afternoon. Scattered showers and storms could develop into the evening. Some storms could be strong or severe. Highs will be in the 80s with muggy conditions.

Sunday: Scattered showers and storms move through the first half of the day. A few storms could be strong, possibly severe. The eastern Miami Valley may still have a few storms around late afternoon. The area dries out into the night. Daytime highs will be around 80 with still-muggy conditions.

Monday: At least some portion of Memorial Day should be dry, though another front will approach that could trigger a few showers or storms in the evening and into the night. Highs will reach the middle 70s with sunshine and scattered clouds.

Tuesday: Expect a mix of sun and clouds with a passing shower possible. Highs in the middle 70s.

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Some of Miami Valley to see rain, snow while others remain dry

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 5:37 AM
Updated: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 9:18 AM

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini has the latest on who could see snow today and how warm we get tomorrow.


>>WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

We will be starting out in the 20s and will be mostly cloudy, according to Storm Center 7 meteorologist Kirstie Zontini. Passing showers move in during the day mixing with snow and possibly some rain in the afternoon. The best chance for this is south of I-70. Snow totals will be limited and most of the Miami Valley won’t see any stick. Butler County is under a Winter Weather Advisory with possible snowfalls reaching 1 inch to 3 inches. The Dayton area might see a dusting on grassy surfaces. North of Dayton will have a pretty quite Saturday. It looks like the Miami Valley dodges the heaviest bands of snow which will stay south. Temperatures climb to around 40. Clouds decrease tonight and we drop to the mid 20s.


  • Most escape accumulating snow in Miami Valley
  • Dry and mild Sunday
  • Warmer next week with spring showers

>>5-Day Forecast


Sunday: It will be a beautiful end to the weekend. We will see highs in the mid to upper 40s. Dry and sunny!

Monday: We see a nice start to the new week with temperatures close to normal with highs in the low to mid 50s. Clouds increase in the evening.

Tuesday: Scattered rain showers will develop with highs in the upper 50s feeling mild and breezy.

Wednesday: Scattered showers continue in the morning. We will see some late day sunshine with highs around 60.

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Vehicle flips on its top in Washington Twp.

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 6:03 AM

Vehicle flipped on its top in Washington Twp.

Crews responded to reports that a red Chevy Trail Blazer flipped on its top in Washington Twp. Saturday morning.

The single vehicle flipped at the cross of Hempstead Meadows and West Alex Bell Road around 5 a.m.

>>Flames shooting from vacant house in Dayton

Medics were on scene but no one was taken to the hospital.

It’s not known what caused the accident.

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Feds investigate threatening letter sent to local NAACP president

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 11:51 AM
Updated: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 12:59 PM

A press conference was held Friday to show community for Denise Williams and the NAACP, who received a threatening letter recently.

A threatening letter sent to the Springfield NAACP president earlier this week has prompted an investigation by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

The letter police said contained “threats of violence and racial epithets” and was mailed to the chapter office and received Wednesday.

Denise Williams, president of the Springfield NAACP, was sent a threatening letter containing 'racial epithets.'(Bill Lackey)

SPRINGFIELD NEWS: Ex-Springfield firefighter shared post with racial slur

Springfield NAACP President Denise Williams reported the letter to Springfield police.

"We have reached out to our partners in state and federal agencies, and we're making a cooperative effort to identify the source of the abhorrent act," said Springfield Police Division Chief Lee Graf. "We take these threats very seriously."

A press conference is scheduled for Friday afternoon.

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Dayton students head to D.C. to march for gun control 

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 1:05 AM

Dayton students head to D.C. to march for gun control 

A group of students from the Dayton area left Friday night, headed to Washington, D.C. to march in the nation's capital Saturday in the name of gun control.

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The students have a grueling itinerary, leaving from Englewood by bus Friday night, riding by bus through the night and arriving in Washington around 9 a.m. 

"We want action and we want prevention," said Sammy Caruso, an Oakwood High School student who coordinated the trip. 

Oakwood students spent their Friday night making signs in preparation for their trip. They'll joine other teens from all over the country in what's being called the "March for our Lives." 

It's a push for tougher gun laws in the wake of the most recent mass shooting last month at a high school in Parkland, Florida. 

"I think marches are one of the best ways we can get people involved," said Caruso. 

Students from several schools in the Miami Valley boarded the bus, along with some parents and teachers who also are along for the trip. 

>>Flames shooting from vacant house in Dayton

Caruso said he lost a friend in the Parkland shooting, so he said this issue is personal for him. 

"I really felt like I needed to do something about it, I couldn't just watch this happen, see something that happened to my friend ... I need to do as much as I can," he said. 

"We want our congressmen to know that we're sick of it, and if they're not going to have any action, we're going to demand it." 

In Dayton, a March for Our Lives event is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Courthouse Square downtown.

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