2019 Memorial Day Tornado Outbreak

FEMA inspectors conduct damage assessments in Trotwood, where several large apartment complexes were destroyed in the tornadoes.
April Laissle / WYSO

As WYSO remembers the 2019 Memorial Day tornado disaster, we've been speaking with Daytonians whose lives were forever changed by the storm. In this story, we hear from Norman Scearce. The Trotwood pastor and his Gateway Cathedral church helped coordinate recovery efforts in the hard-hit Trotwood area.

After surviving the tornado by sheltering in the bathroom with his family, Scearce ventured into the neighborhood and headed for his church to inspect the damage.

What follows is a transcript of the interview, edited for length and clarity:

Longtime Trotwood residents Michelle Potter (L) and Terri Davis recently recorded at WYSO their recollections of surviving the 2019 tornado disaster.
April Laissle / WYSO

The tornado that hit Trotwood last year left behind massive destruction, leveling businesses across the area and displacing hundreds of people from their apartments and homes. Among the residents forced to relocate temporarily were Michelle Potter and Terri Davis. The friends have called Trotwood home for decades and Davis says that when the sirens finally stopped on the night of the tornado, she barely recognized her neighborhood.

William Colston and his brother James Woody experienced the tornadoes together in an unusual way.
Jess Mador / WYSO

On the night of the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes, when a twister with windspeeds of 170 miles per hour hit Montgomery County’s Shiloh Springs area, 32-year-old William Colston was in the apartment he shared with his mother and sister. His 26-year-old brother James Woody was home at his apartment in Columbus. They experienced the storm together in an unusual way.

Former Ward Two Trotwood City Councilman Rap Hankins and Trotwood Police Chief Erik Wilson.
Jess Mador / WYSO

This month on WYSO, we’re remembering the 2019 Memorial Day tornado disaster. This story brings us voices from Trotwood, where an EF4 tornado destroyed hundreds of homes, businesses, and apartments, and where many city residents are still recovering more than a year later.

Beavercreek, the morning after the tornados.
City of Beavercreek Facebook page

It was a year ago today that 19 tornadoes tore through communities across Ohio. In Beavercreek, many business owners woke up to damage from tornadoes that hit overnight, destroying offices and shops around North Fairfield Road near The Mall at Fairfield Commons.

A year later, some businesses are still fighting to survive.

Beth Wentz and Timothy Walker spent weeks in a hotel followed by months in a mobile home. Their search for a new home was slowed by a tight housing market last year, among other factors, they say.
Timothy Walker

As WYSO remembers the 2019 Memorial Day tornado disaster and its impacts, we return to one of last year's hardest-hit Miami Valley communities: tight-knit Northridge. Beth Wentz and Timothy Walker raised their two children in the area as longtime homeowners in their first house together. On the night of the storm, Wentz and the kids clung together in the basement as a massive EF4 twister destroyed the house all around them. Walker had just started on third shift at a Clayton warehouse when his sister-in-law called.

A year after the tornadoes, many homes in and around Dayton are still in various stages of repair.
Jason Reynolds / WYSO

A year ago today, 19 tornadoes touched down in Ohio, destroying homes and businesses in rural and urban areas alike. The largest of those tornados passed through the City of Dayton and several neighboring communities. WYSO’s Jason Reynolds has been talking with people in some of the hardest-hit communities to see where they are today.

A screen capture from 'Dayton's Darkest Summer.'

On Thursday night, a team of University of Dayton filmmakers released a new short documentary examining the city’s response to the 2019 Memorial Day Tornadoes, and the mass shooting that occurred in the Oregon District.

More than 150 people logged onto Zoom to watch the world premiere of “Dayton’s Darkest Summer”.

The media production students who produced this 15 minute documentary interviewed Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, first responders, and victims of the two tragedies.

Little league players will be allowed to take the field in 2020, but the game will look different.
Ruth Clark

The State of Ohio has said it’s now okay to play little league baseball this summer, but there are a lot of new rules.

Kids can’t give each other high-fives or handshakes. They have to wear masks when they aren’t on the field, and they have to stay at least six feet apart when they’re in the dugout.

Read the complete list of coronavirus related rules here.

courtesy of Dejanee Coaston

As Ohio rolls out plans to reopen its economy, the economic fallout continues in communities around the Miami Valley. The state is struggling to process the record number of unemployment claims filed during the pandemic and millions of Americans are still waiting for their federal stimulus checks.

Among them is Dayton 28-year-old single mom Dejanee Coaston, who lives with her daughter on the city's west side. When the coronavirus shutdown took effect she lost most of her hours at her full-time restaurant job and quickly fell behind on her bills.