EDITOR’S NOTE: Dayton Daily News reporters Chris Stewart and Josh Sweigart — joined at times by Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs — are traveling the length of the largest of the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes. It tore a path all the way across Montgomery County impacting thousands of homes and businesses. We are gathering people’s stories and investigating obstacles to recovery. This story is part of that coverage.
Alexis Miller got home just before the tornado hit, but too late to reach the inside of her house.
She got out of work at the Subway restaurant in Englewood a couple of minutes after 10 p.m. and drove toward home in her red, four-door Buick sedan.
Miller lives with her parents in a house abutting Brookville High School on Charlie Court. She drove through the rain and lightning all the way home and parked in front of the house just as the tornado struck.
“I couldn’t get out of my car because the wind started to pick up and I couldn’t open the door,” she said. “Things started hitting my car so I was covered by all the debris. I couldn’t see outside and then my car started to lift up, go side to side.”
All she could see was a twirling fog. A tree flew past her window. All she could hear was the rain and debris pelting her car.
She called her parents, who were inside the house in the basement.
“They told me to get down under my dashboard,” she said. “They tried to get out but they couldn’t because there were trees and limbs everywhere.”
It seemed like 10 minutes, Miller said, but it certainly lasted less time than that.
“The first part I was thinking I was going to die because I felt the car moving and I thought it was going to be picked up and gone. Then I calmed myself down because I had my mom on the phone and they said they were going to come get me and I saw the lights, so I just started to calm down and waited till everything went away.”
The car suffered a few dents and a cracked windshield. The damage to her parents’ house — smashed windows, destroyed porch — were repaired.
Miller leaned on her family to address the emotional damage.
“The first few days I was a little shocked,” she said. “But I got through it because I have 64 members as a family, so they were all talking to me, saying, “You’ll be OK.’”
by Josh Sweigart and Chris Stewart (2019, Oct 7) Dayton Daily News