Memorial Day tornadoes: Impact still evident in Beavercreek six months later

Memorial Day tornadoes: Impact still evident in Beavercreek six months later
A fraction of repairs to homes and apartments has been completed after the Memorial Day tornadoes struck. This duplex on North Knoll Drive in Beavercreek was getting new siding and roof repair in this photo from late June. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

BEAVERCREEK — High winds this week had people in Beavercreek thinking back to Memorial Day night, when tornadoes damaged and destroyed thousands of homes across the region.

News Center 7’s Jim Otte has the story of a man giving thanks for surviving the storm, and he hopes his neighbors can soon finish their repairs.

In a neighborhood in Beavercreek on Ellsworth Drive, everywhere you look it’s a different story. Some houses are redone, fixed up and it looks good. But a lot of houses are still being rebuilt half a year later.

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U.S. Navy retiree Gary Geilenfeldt was at home when the tornadoes struck. He said he vividly remembers the lightning and heavy winds. Lots of heavy damage was left once the storm cleared out.

“My house took a direct hit, and I pretty much knew for sure it was going to be written up as a total loss,” Geilenfeldt said.

Today, it’s back in good shape, and in the hands of another owner.

“The insurance company settled up rather quickly and w were able to purchase another home within 30 days,” he said.

The city, though, has plenty of other families who are still hurting.

Beavercreek Mayor Bob Stone drives through the damaged neighborhoods, checking on properties, on a regular basis.

“I try to do it weekly and I’m looking for things like we’re seeing right in front of us, where there’s a home setting like it’s not getting any attention but then new trusses show up,” he said.

Despite the high wind on Wednesday, some repair work was underway at some houses.

Stone said the city isn’t sure how many properties still need to be cleaned up or demolished. But he’d like to find out soon.

“At the beginning of the year, I think we need to make sure we do know exactly what properties still need help,” he said.

A lot of flags were flying in neighborhoods. Geilenfeldt said he is hoping people keep up their optimism for the future.

Now with a new home, also in Beavercreek, his family is grateful for how things have turned out for them.

“My wife and I thank the good Lord at least twice a day and probably more often than that for watching over us,” he said.

He is not only thankful for the good fortune of his family, but he’s concerned for his neighbors as well, hoping soon they can get back to normal.