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

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 5:46 PM
By: Will Garbe - Staff Writer

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.