Lawrence natives weather Xenia tornado

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 22, 2000

XENIA – Brenda Brown’s terror began seconds after rain pelted the church roof.

Friday, September 22, 2000

XENIA – Brenda Brown’s terror began seconds after rain pelted the church roof.

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"Really, nobody is sure which came first the wind or the rain," she said, recalling the moment Wednesday’s twister landed.

"The tornado sirens didn’t even sound off it happened so quick. It literally came out of nowhere and sounded like a freight train. You couldn’t hear anything it was so loud the wind howled so sharply glass started shattering, wood started breaking and it seemed like everything began flying through the air it was so horrible."

Mrs. Brown, a former Ironton resident who moved to Xenia six years ago, and her son took shelter under the pews. Her daughter was at a friend’s house just around the corner.

Instinct just took over as the wind became even stronger, she said.

"Most of us took shelter under the pews," Mrs. Brown said. "The kids in the back of the church were covered up with the adults who were watching them. One gentleman at church suffered a compression fracture in his back. He said he felt something heavy hit him as he fell."

Thoughts of her family’s safety caused a state of panic, she added.

"As it happened, all I could think about was my children were not with me and I had to find them," she said. "They’re generally always with me and I’m not used to them not being there. We’ve never been through anything like what happened here."

Ms. Brown said she found her daughter safe in the house after the twister subsided, although she suffered a mild concussion.

"She has lots of bruises, but she’s home and doing very well," she said. "The only thing we really lost was our car. It could have been a lot worse for us, but we still have each other. My sister, Vickie, and her husband, did lose everything. They were able to get out of their house in time with not even a scratch."

Xenia residents have begun picking up the pieces left behind from the tornado that killed one person and injured hundreds more, Mrs. Brown said.

Attempts to return back to a normal lifestyle are under way, she said.

"The community here is really pulling together," Ms. Brown said. "It’s amazing total strangers are helping total strangers. There are lots of volunteers from all over here to help everyone pull their lives back together."

She said power to most of the city was restored late Thursday, after being down for more than 20 hours, but communications are still limited.

"DP&L (Dayton Power and Light) has worked around the clock to get our power back," she said

"We still have power lines down everywhere though. The American Red Cross and various other people have brought supplies, water and food from everywhere it seems like. It’s about as marvelous as it can be."

She said shelters have been set up in area schools to assist those who suffer lose from the twister.

"Schools have been closed, obviously, and they are using them as shelters for anyone in need," Ms. Brown said. "We’re all still really shaken by what happened, but we’re all still alive that’s what counts."