Impact on communities still palpable one year after Memorial Day Tornadoes

It’s been nearly a year since 15 tornadoes ripped through the Miami Valley on Memorial Day 2019.

While many local residents have been advised to stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, some don’t have the option.

The Memorial Day Tornadoes: One year Later

Christine Creager and her family fall in that category. Her home was severely damaged by the largest of the tornadoes that night, a violent EF4 with maximum wind speeds up to 170mph.

“A neighbor is the one that told me that the roof was gone off the top of my house,” said Creager after she emerged from the basement that night.

To this day, Christine and her family are still living in temporary housing.

“I have a new compassion for homeless people,” said Creager.

Christine’s story represents so many from across the Miami Valley. Storm Center 7 has learned more than one-third of homes damaged, did not have insurance, meaning the tornadoes and hail cost them upwards of 200-million dollars in damage.

Before Covid-19, the Miami Valley Long Term Recovery Operations Group, with the help of community patterns and volunteer teams, was scheduled to kick-off major repair and rebuilding operations for the hundreds of tornado damaged properties across the Miami Valley.

“The goal for tornado recovery is to help people who do not have the means to recover on their own,” said Laura Mercer the Executive Director of the Miami Valley Long Term Recovery Operations Group.

Of the 419 homeowners who’ve contacted Laura’s group for help, 287 of them are underinsured or uninsured.

Volunteer coordinator, Emmy Fabich, says the pandemic has disrupted their plans. One of the biggest slowdowns has been adjusting for volunteer safety and the dangers of working in larger groups. Teams of up to 15 now have to be reduced by more than half.

“It has to be very small teams. Teams of maybe four or five max,” said Fabich.

While small teams may work slower, there is still very important work being done.

“Right now we are focusing on exterior work. Demolition work. Things that can be done without the homeowners being inside of the property,” said Fabich.

Now that the stay at home order has been lifted, more projects will begin to move forward.

As for Christine and her family, Habitat for Humanity hired Blade Cutters, Inc to do the demolition on her home. This is the first step in many to getting them back home.

An end date is not known as to when they’ll be moving into a new home, but cannot wait to call Old North Dayton home, again.

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