BEAVERCREEK — One year ago today, parts of Greene County were hit by a massive late-night tornado.
The EF-3 was part of a 19-tornado outbreak in Ohio, mostly in the Miami Valley, and packed quite a punch with winds up to 140 miles per hour and measuring as much as .7 miles wide. It was one of three to hit as EF-1 and EF-2 twisters touched down near Jamestown, one shortly before midnight and one about 30 minutes later.
The EF-3 began at the Page Manor subdivision in Riverside and was on the ground for 20 minutes, covering 10 miles before dissipating along U.S. 68 North in Xenia Township.
Two locations were hit particularly hard: the area of I-675 and Grange Hall Road, where several homes along Rushton Drive had entire roofs lifted as well as the collapse of several exterior walls; and near Anna Laura Lane in an apartment complex which had buildings lose entire roofs and some exterior walls.
Most of the damage from near Grange Hall Road east to businesses near North Fairfield was EF1- and EF2-type damage.
Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said he and Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers surveyed the damage via helicopter the next day.
“The damage is extreme. There’s a lot more damage than I anticipated,” Fischer told Greene County News at the time.
The sheriff described what he saw from the air: a Beavercreek house — its natural gas not shut off yet — catch fire and burn. A crumbled cell tower, collapsed electrical towers. Destruction to homes and businesses.
Gov. Mike DeWine, who lived through the 1974 Xenia Tornado, toured the area as well and used words like “miserable,” “horrible,” and “tragic,” to describe what he saw in Greene County.
States of emergency were declared to help speed up the recovery effort.
According to a Facebook post from City Manager Pete Landrum, the tornado had an estimated 14.5 square miles of impact.
“Although the Gardenview and Spicer Heights areas received most of the attention due to the severity and number of homes destroyed, the damage continues east on both sides of Kemp Road,” Landrum said in the post.
Reports indicate that 44 buildings were destroyed, 164 sustained major damages, 346 sustained minor damages and 595 were affected by the storm in Beavercreek Township, which encompasses the city as well.
Teresa Low, who lives near Kemp and LaGrange roads, said her family lost fences and the basketball hoop pole, belonging to her daughter Alexa, was snapped in half.
Mike and Vicki Sheets had considerable damage on their property but they were unsure if their home was hit directly by the tornado.
“Mike thinks the house would be in worse shape if it were a direct hit,” Vicki said. “But it may well have gone down the middle of the street. We heard several loud thuds and felt some shaking. I’m guessing that’s when the trees hit the house.”
Fischer said he received reports of damage in the City of Beavercreek, Beavercreek Township, Xenia Township and Cedarville Township. He also reported noticeable flooding in the northeast area of the county.
The system moved east toward Jamestown and Cedarville, which were also under tornado warnings.
The EF-1 hit northeast of the village at 11:48 p.m., beginning on Lackey Road and moving across a field between Lackey and South Charleston roads. According to the National Weather Service in Wilmington, it was on the ground for around nine minutes, covered 5.4 miles and ended in extreme western Fayette County. It was about 250 yards wide.
The EF-2 hit at 12:23 a.m. May 28 beginning along South Charleston Road where multiple large trees on both sides of the road snapped, the NWS reported. A shed was destroyed and metal from it was blown into a field. Most of the roof of a home on Rogers Road, the next road over, was removed. The tornado was on the ground about nine minutes and covered 4.2 miles.
The storm led to an outpouring of support from residents in Greene and nearby counties. Churches collected food and water for those in need. Donations came from residents and businesses throughout the area. Residents who were not affected visited areas that were hit the hardest and offered to help clean up.
Earlier this week the Beavercreek Chamber of Commerce reported that 123 of the affected 125 businesses have reopened.