'Large and destructive' tornado causes injuries, thousands of outages in Ohio
The National Weather Service confirmed that multiple tornadoes, including one described as "large and destructive," touched down near Dayton, Ohio, late Monday, reportedly injuring at least several people, leaving around 5 million people without power across the state and causing extensive damage to homes, businesses and roads at the end of Memorial Day.
Mayor Mary McDonald of Trotwood, Ohio, about eight miles northwest of Dayton, told local outlets that there are several injuries in the area, with some people being hospitalized as a result of the tornado's devastation. She added that there were no fatalities as of early Tuesday and that the extent of those reported injuries was unclear. WHIO reported that Trotwood ordered those in need of shelter to be bused to nearby Red Cross shelters. She said on Facebook that power lines and trees were down throughout Trotwood, a city of 25,000 residents.
"Please stay in," she wrote. "Stay safe."
At 11 p.m. Monday, the National Weather Service of Wilmington, Ohio, confirmed the tornadoes were on the ground near Trotwood, describing the natural disaster as an "EXTREMELY DANGEROUS SITUATION" and "A LIFE THREATENING SITUATION!" The National Weather Service said the tornadoes took place about 30 minutes apart and affected at least a half-dozen communities in Ohio and eastern Indiana. Authorities announced early Tuesday that the National Guard was being deployed to the area. The Ohio Department of Transportation said that crews were using snowplows to help clean up debris that was covering Interstate-75 north of downtown Dayton. While there are no remaining tornado warnings, there are active flood warnings until early Tuesday.
Early Tuesday, the National Weather Service said the tornado caused more than 70,000 power outages, affecting about 5 million people throughout Ohio. In Dayton, the city's utility said that almost 60,000 customers were without power, accounting for more than 88 percent of the area. The utility said it expects a multiday restoration effort, with the National Weather Service adding that it "will be conducting damage surveys for the next few days." Dayton city officials asked residents to conserve water, as the area had lost power to both water plants and pump stations.
"First Responders are performing search and rescue operations and debris clearing," the city tweeted.
Among the most affected areas were Miami, Montgomery and Greene counties. Dayton, the sixth-most populous city in the state, is the seat of Montgomery County. In Mercer County, about 80 miles from Dayton, officials told NBC News that at least seven people had been hospitalized. Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck said that his office has received "an overwhelming number of calls" and that "the public should not call 911 unless something is sparking or someone is injured or in immediate danger," WDTN reported. In Beavercreek, a Dayton suburb, there was a mandatory evacuation within the subdivisions, according to WHIO. In the town of Celina, Mayor Jeffrey Hazel told WDTN that some of the areas looked "like a war zone."
"Some of the houses were completely moved off their foundations and gone," he said.
Local outlets highlighted how homes, apartment complexes, schools and businesses had become debris following the tornado. Trees had been uprooted. The roof of a high school in Brookville, Ohio, was ripped off. The town's firehouse, home to first responders in the area, had its garage completely ripped off the building. The Action Sports Center, a 30,000-square-foot indoor complex in Dayton housing two full-sized soccer fields, was left in ruins.
"It's a complete loss, no way around it," one of the owners told WHIO. "It's unsalvageable."
On social media, residents shared photos and videos of the destruction throughout southwestern Ohio. Tenley Taghi was in tears as she filmed what was left of her family's home. Taghi, who said there were no sirens before the tornado hit, told WDTN that a light pole fell through her home and injured her father, who was pulled out by firefighters. Taghi was left in tears and disbelief seeing what had happened to her home, saying repeatedly in her video: "Our house is gone. Oh my God."
"I saw the clouds spin backwards and the trees began to sway uncontrollably and we took shelter," she told WDTN. "I was standing on the porch that is no longer standing. We took shelter right as the storm hit."
In a message to The Washington Post, Taghi said she was all right but remained shaken up.
"Thankfully, we're OK," she said.
Residents in the Dayton area, as well as their family and friends, shared videos and photos of the storm as it was unfolding. Others were still trying to wrap their heads around the catastrophic damage caused to their communities.
As residents began to come outside to assess the damage, they began recounting their experiences.
"It was shaking and we covered for shelter," Dwayne Chastain Jr. tweeted. "Pray for my city. It's pitch black out here."
Nathan Mann of Trotwood told WDTN that he took cover once he heard the sirens in his area, proceeding to his basement. He compared the scene Monday night to something "out of a movie." He said he pretty much tied himself to a pole, "and hoped to God that nothing would hurt me." He texted his wife, thinking that he was going to die.
"It felt like someone picked my house up and set it back down," he said. "When it was over, I couldn't believe what I saw."