I'm Kayla Tucker. I'm a senior at David H. Ponitz Career Technology Center. I'm 17 years old. I'm also a first year varsity cheerleader for basketball and football. When I was 10 years old, I experienced the aftermath of a hurricane that flooded the river by our house so much that the cold water covered my feet as I stood on the sidewalk. I didn't realize how much power and strength the weather had.
I was reminded of that power once again last Memorial Day weekend when several tornadoes touched down in Dayton on May 27, 2019
It was a good day. The sun was shining. Me and my friends, Alyse and Sunny were going to Kings Island. Kings Island is basically a supersized amusement park that has a roller coaster and a water area. Sunny was going away to New York for the summer, so we were spending our last day together. I met up with them over at her house, and Sonny's dad drove us to King's Island. It was the first week of summer. I remember having a blast. It was the hottest day ever. We were there having at times of our lives. We had no idea what was about to happen.
After being there for a couple of hours, it started to rain. Not much, just sprinkles. I started to wonder why the rides were closing because of it, but no one said that there would be a tornado warning.
At this point it was dark out. I noticed a lot of dark clouds forming. My phone went off. It was my dad. He called me and said, "Are you on your way back? There's a tornado warning."
I brushed it off because I was always told Dayton couldn't get tornadoes. We always had false alarms. So I told him, "Yeah, we're waiting on her mom to pick us up."
After that call, my mom called telling me the same thing, and I start to get a little worried.
Sunny's mom came to pick us up. In a car driving back to Dayton, I could see a pitch black sky. Lightning was going crazy, but I couldn't hear the thunder. I just wanted to be with my family, not in the car, not at someone else's house, just with them.
The fact that we were driving through a tornado is terrifying.
Finally, we're back in Dayton, and a rain is pouring so hard you could barely see out the window and the wind was blowing. Me, Alyse, Sunny and her mom all got back to the house safely. As I'm sitting there making calls to get picked up, the lights in Sunny's house started to flicker. Then boom, the lights went out. Everyone in the house had to go to the basement.
The scariest part was when my grandma came and picked me up from her house. I remember she was calling me, but the call kept dropping. And the last call she told me she was outside. I was just glad she made it, and the lightning was so bright you could barely see.
As I was leaving, I told Alyse and Sunny, I love you because once again, I would be going out in a tornado. So I thought it the tornado doesn't get us, we would definitely get into a crash. But we made it back to my mom's house. As soon as we got there, I ran to hug her. The lights on my street were off in, and whole block had no power. I remember seeing so many trees in the street. It was unrecognizable.
It really affected us, but it also brought the community together. We have from kids to adults helping clean up and trying to fix houses. People donated their own water bottles and food out of their kitchens to help. You never know how much you love something until it's almost gone. #DaytonStrong
Kayla Tucker is a senior at Ponitz CTC High School. Thanks to Ponitz Radio media arts instructors Joanne Viskup and Jeffrey Crowell. Learn more at the school's website: http://ponitzctc.org. Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, the Vectren Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.
This story was created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.