One month later: Trotwood facing long road after deadly tornado

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TROTWOOD, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — One month since the Memorial Day tornado outbreak across Ohio, neighbors have made a lot of progress with clean up. But there’s still a long road ahead for many communities.

The National Weather Service now confirms 21 tornadoes throughout the state in that one 24-hour period. The largest tornado, an EF-4, tore through the city of Trotwood. It ripped away trees, roofs, 2nd floors and left the city with no power and no water. The storm ultimately displaced more than 800 families.

The immediate aftermath was difficult, but the aftermath since that day has been even more painful for many neighbors.

“Trying to find your personal belonging things that are near and dear to you,” said Wayne Johnson, who still isn’t sure if he’ll be able to restore his home of 30 years. “You see things that you cherish destroyed. Those are the things that really devastate you more so than the actual tornado itself.”

Across from the Johnson home, Rap Hankins’ house was mostly spared, but his property will never be the same. It used to be covered by large trees that he estimates were 150-years-old. The storm took every tree but one.

“The trees are gone, but I remind myself that the people aren’t,” said Hankins.

He and his neighbors refuse to let the storm take the pride they have in their community.

“My neighbor right here – half his house is gone,” said Hankins. “Yesterday, he cut his grass. What does that say about people in our community that now, after a disaster, we pulled out our lawn mowers and cut our grass. It meant that we had a sense of pride in who we are.”

The city of Trotwood wants to help its citizens get back on their feet. City officials established the Trotwood Disaster Relief Fund, which recently received a large corporate donation of $10,000 from African Pride, which is part of the Strength of Nature hair products company.

Through an application process, each household can receive a voucher worth up to $1,000 to purchase items that will set up a new living space.

“We want to be able to give that leg up to individuals after they have gone through the FEMA process and everything else that they need to do,” said Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald. “We want to be able to help them with some of those needs up to $1000 per family.”

City officials and neighbors say this community is special. They want to rebuild, but they know it will take time. So, they plan to continue to come together.

“As Ohioans, we can’t forget that we’re taking care of each other,” said Rap Hankins. “We have to stand back-to-back and support each other and I think that’s the message that should be given.”

“We are Trotwood strong,” said Wayne Johnson. “We have a lot of strong, resilient people here and we’re gonna be OK. We’re going to be OK. I should say we’re already OK, because we’re here.”

by Stacia Naquin (2019, June 27) Fox 28

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Kyrie Wagner