Tornadoes carve path through Ohio: 1 killed, dozens injured
Published 10:33 am Wednesday, May 29, 2019
BROOKVILLE (AP) — A swarm of tornadoes so tightly packed that one may have crossed the path carved by another tore across Indiana and Ohio overnight, smashing homes, blowing out windows and ending the school year early for some students because of damage to buildings. One person was killed and dozens were injured.
The storms were among 53 twisters that forecasters said may have touched down Monday across eight states stretching eastward from Idaho and Colorado.
The winds peeled away roofs — leaving homes looking like giant dollhouses — knocked houses off their foundations, toppled trees, brought down power lines and churned up so much debris that it could be seen on radar. Highway crews had to use snowplows to clear an Ohio interstate.
Some of the heaviest damage was reported just outside Dayton.
“I just got down on all fours and covered my head with my hands,” said Francis Dutmers, who with his wife headed for the basement of their home in Vandalia, about 10 miles outside Dayton, when the storm hit with a “very loud roar” Monday night. The winds blew out windows around his house, filled rooms with debris and took down most of his trees.
In Celina, 81-year-old Melvin Dale Hannah was killed when a parked car was blown into his house, authorities said.
“There’s areas that truly look like a war zone,” Mayor Jeffrey Hazel said Tuesday.
Storm reports posted online by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center showed that 14 suspected tornadoes touched down in Indiana, 11 in Colorado and nine in Ohio. Six were reported in Iowa, five in Nebraska, four in Illinois and three in Minnesota, with one in Idaho.
Thunderstorms that spun off the Colorado twisters dropped hail as large as tennis balls, with pea-size hail reported in the Denver area. Nebraska was hit with hail more than 2 inches in diameter, and dozens of drivers pulled off Interstate 80 with broken windshields.
Forecasters warned of the possibility of powerful thunderstorms during the Tuesday afternoon rush hour in the Kansas City area, as well as more bad weather in Ohio.
A tornado with winds up to 140 mph struck near Trotwood, eight miles from Dayton, and Mayor Mary McDonald reported “catastrophic damage” in the community of 24,500. Several apartment buildings were damaged or destroyed, including one complex where the entire roof was torn away, and at least three dozen people were treated at emergency rooms for cuts, bumps and bruises.
“If I didn’t move quick enough, what could have happened?” said Erica Bohannon of Trotwood, who hid in a closet with her son and their dog. She emerged to find itself looking at the sky. The roof had blown away.
Five busloads of displaced residents were taken to a church that served as a shelter, Trotwood’s mayor said.