A string of tornadoes unleashing their fury across Ohio and Indiana overnight ripped apart communities and left a wide swath of debris as a two-week wave of severe weather continued its unrelenting assault on the nation’s midsection.
In Celina, Ohio, firefighter Brian Davis confirmed that one person was killed and seven injured when the apparent tornado roared through just before midnight Monday. At least 40 homes were damaged by the storms.
Celina resident Kylie Post, who said her home was spared, has no basement, so she and her son huddled under a mattress in a bathtub.
“We heard the tornado sirens and then it got really quiet,” Post said Tuesday. “Next, it sounded almost like a train was near us that lasted for only a few minutes.”
An area around Dayton, in Ohio’s Montgomery County, saw some of the worst damage.
“A large, dangerous tornado touched down last night in northwest Montgomery County,” the county said in a statement. “We are focused on supporting life-saving measures, such as shutting down gas lines or locating people who are trapped by debris.”
Dayton Fire Chief Jeffrey Payne said no fatalities and just a few minor injuries had been reported locally. Considering the amount of property damage, that was “pretty miraculous,” he said. Urban Search and Rescue teams from Columbus and Cincinnati were helping local first responders picking through rubble in search of survivors, Payne said.
Apparent tornadoes also touched down in at least six other states over the Memorial Day weekend. The Midwest has been hammered by scores of tornadoes and heavy storms since mid-May, leaving at least 10 dead and a trail of damage from high winds and flooding.
The weather service issued a string of tornado watches and warnings deep into the night as the unsettled weather stretched east from Indiana into Ohio, many along the Interstate 70 corridor that cuts through the heart of the two states.
“Confirmed, large and dangerous tornado on the ground near Trotwood, Ohio,” the National Weather Service said. “Extremely dangerous situation. Take cover now.”
The outbreak was so severe the National Weather Service said a tornado near Vandalia, Ohio, cut across the path of the earlier twister. More than 60,000 homes and businesses were without power Monday in Ohio alone, the weather service said.
A boil-water advisory was issued and residents of Dayton and Montgomery County were asked to conserve water after authorities said power was out at water plants and pump stations.
Some lanes of Interstate 75 were blocked north of Dayton. Trucks with plows were scraping tree branches and rubble to the side to get the major north-south route reopened, said Matt Bruning, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation.
In Indiana, more than 70 homes were damaged or destroyed by storms, including reports of two tornadoes.
“We do not know at this time if this was a tornado, straight-line winds or what the cause was” of damage in Pendleton, 35 miles northeast of Indianapolis, said Todd Harmeson, a spokesman for the Madison County Emergency Management Agency.
Harmeson said emergency officials were going door to door to check on residents.
Trees are down “on every street” in the city, he warned. And power is out across the area.
“Stay inside. Shelter in place if you can,” Harmeson said.
Multiple tornadoes ripped through eastern Iowa on Monday, damaging several homes, barns and trees.
Local authorities reported a half-dozen tornadoes in the eastern part of the state as a severe weather system moved eastward Monday afternoon. No injuries have been reported. The National Weather Service is working on surveying the sites.
“It was about the quickest thing I’ve ever seen.” said Shawn Zweibohmer, who was working on a house he owns outside Charles City Monday afternoon when the tornado came through. “There was no alert, there was nothing.”
The Oklahoma City suburb of El Reno was still digging out from an EF3 tornado late Saturday that killed at least two people, destroyed a motel and devastated a mobile home park. And some communities in Oklahoma and Arkansas were bracing for their worst-ever flooding as the Arkansas River reached record crests in some areas.
Contributing: Ian Richardson, Des Moines Register; Jennie Key, The Cincinnati Enquirer; Kellie Hwang, The Indianapolis Star; The Associated Press
by John Bacon (2019, May 28) USA Today