severe weather

Up to 1,000 Beavercreek buildings damaged in tornado

Published: Thursday, May 30, 2019 @ 2:14 PM

WATCH: Tornado damage on North Fairfield in Beavercreek

Clean-up efforts are continuing today in some of the hardest hit areas in Beavercreek, as government and nonprofit agencies work to provide resources and meet the needs of residents and business owners.

>> Tornado leaves path of destruction in Beavercreek

The northern third of the township was in the path of the storm, according to Beavercreek Twp. Fire Chief David Vandenbos.

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He said 800 to 1,000 homes and commercial buildings in Beavercreek Twp., which includes the city of Beavercreek, sustained damage from the EF 3 tornado that struck late the night of Memorial Day.

(Richard Wilson)

The level of damage varied widely, he said.

“About 40 percent of those were moderate to severe damage, meaning they may be inhabitable to uninhabitable to needing to be completely rebuilt,” Vandenbos said.

Vandenbos said the number of homes and businesses damaged is important to establish because it will determine how much assistance is distributed by federal and state resources.

Donations can be dropped off and volunteer opportunities are available at Be Hope Church, formerly the Church of the Nazarene, 1850 N. Fairfield Road, (937) 426-3926.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH) accompanied local officials Wednesday on a tour of some of the most damaged areas in Beavercreek, including the commercial areas around North Fairfield and Kemp roads.

“Although the recovery will take some time, we will continue to work at the federal level, with the help of Mike's strong representation, to secure the resources needed to rebuild and recover," McCarthy said.

Turner expressed gratitude to the first-responders and news outlets “who saved countless lives through their work.”

(Richard Wilson)

“The damage in our community from these tornadoes is extensive ... We will be working together on the federal level along with state and local officials to rebuild our community,” Turner said.

Target employees say they are waiting to get the OK from the county building department, but are otherwise ready to reopen on generator power.

Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleson said county inspectors have visited Target and other businesses several times.

“In order for a store to open, they must meet certain code requirements. In the case of Target, they were informed of those requirements and are working hard to be in compliance,” Huddleson said. “Public safety is our number one concern.”

Many homes and apartment buildings are hollow shells around Gardenview Drive and Grange Hall Road. Large, older growth trees lay across lawns and line the edges of streets layered with sawdust. Cars that can no longer be parked in driveways crowd the small residential roads along with trucks from utilities and tree companies.

(Richard Wilson)

Vandenbos said his department responded to about 140 calls for service from approximately 11:30 p.m. Monday night to around 4 p.m. Tuesday. 

“We had a number of rescues ... People just couldn’t get out of their houses because of debris and trees and things like that,” he said.

Firefighters continue to visit damaged areas checking for hazardous conditions and delivering water to people working to remove downed trees and debris from their properties.

Vandenbos said the clean-up efforts can lead to emergency calls for injuries and heat exhaustion. 

“We’re expecting a lot of minor injuries and minor calls as people out here they get tired, they’re working with chainsaws, they’re moving a lot of trees and logs so there’s a lot of potential for injury,” he said. “We have an extra medic staffed just to address any possible issues with that additional workload.”

Other concerns moving forward include “re-energizing power lines and re-pressurizing gas lines.”

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“That’s where often times you can have problems, and so we’re prepared for that,” Vandenbos said. 

Internet and cell phone service is spotty in some parts. AT&T has set up a temporary mobile unit to provide a signal as a nearby tower was felled in the storm.

Vandenbos said the mobile unit is part of First Net, a federal initiative to restore communications, especially for public safety agencies, during a disaster.

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