Dayton woman recounts moment tornado ripped through her home

VANDALIA — Cierra Cherry said she was getting ready for bed Monday night in her house on Kelly Street, near Stanley Avenue and Troy Street in Dayton, when her roommates looked outside at the storm.

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She said at first, they thought nothing of it – just some rain. Then suddenly everything changed, as her roommate Chris Gibson saw a funnel cloud spinning toward them.

“He told me to run, run, run … here it comes,” Cherry said. “We went into the bathroom, and the next thing we know, it’s just black and (the tornado) is all we hear. It goes over us, and when we come out, the roof is off, the window of my kitchen is busted and glass is everywhere. Our whole house is ruined.

Cherry and Gibson told the story from a Red Cross shelter at Morton Middle School in Vandalia, where they were trying to get their bearings along with their other two roommates.

“He basically saved my life,” Cherry said of Gibson. “He was like, go, go, go – run!”

Gibson said the tornado was awesome and scary at the same time.

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“It came out of nowhere,” he said. “I told my girlfriend to run, and as soon as she passed the corner of the wall, the glass broke and went everywhere.”

Cherry said when they came out of the bathroom, everything was silent. Then about 15 minutes later, officers came and told the group they had to go because there was a huge gas leak. Cherry said she was thankful for the Red Cross and the school for setting up the shelter.

“I was shaking, worried, scared and not knowing what to do. The next thing I knew I blacked out and went into a seizure,” Cherry said, adding that she doesn’t know when or if she’ll be able to go back to the house.

“Basically the whole block is ruined,” she said. “I’ve been trying not to cry, but it’s hard. It seriously is.”

About 25 people were using a Red Cross shelter at Morton Middle School in Vandalia at 5 a.m.

The shelter was set up to accommodate up to 50 people, with small cots assembled in rows in the school gym, and water and snacks available in the cafeteria.

Cierra Cherry and Chris Gibson were two of the people using the shelter, after a tornado ripped the roof off their house in Old North Dayton. They were tired, but still running on adrenaline.

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Others were trying to get some rest on the cots, or wandering the cafeteria, still in semi-shock. Two people borrowed a reporter’s cell phone to try to reach family members, as their phones’ batteries had failed.

“Thank God for the people at this school,” Cherry said, while still trying to settle herself.

Vandalia-Butler schools officials on site said they were just there to help with the facility, as the Red Cross was running the shelter.

Jerry Reardon, the Red Cross “mass care lead” on site, said the Red Cross has contracts with multiple schools, governments and others in case shelters are needed.

“Then in a situation like this, we call and say, hey, we need a shelter, are you available? And that way the legwork is already done,” he said.

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