One person is dead and several are injured after multiple tornadoes ravaged Ohio late Monday.
Celina, Ohio, Mayor Jeffrey Hazel told The Washington Post that Melvin Dale Hanna, 81, died after a tornado sent a vehicle crashing through his home. Celina, about 60 miles north of Dayton, suffered severe damage, Hazel said. About 40 homes had been damaged or destroyed, water service was disrupted, and the gas had been turned off for fear of leaks.
At a Tuesday morning news conference, Hazel confirmed seven injuries in Celina, three of which he categorized as “serious,” WDTN reported.
“We are somewhat reeling from the tornado from last night,” Hazel told The Post. “There’s a lot of folks right now that are all out cleaning. They’re starting to pick up debris.”
On Tuesday afternoon, President Trump tweeted soon after returning from a trip to Japan that he had been updated about the storms by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R). “My Administration fully supports the people of the great State of Ohio as they begin the cleanup and recovery,” Trump wrote.
"We are with you!” he said in a separate tweet.
DeWine toured the damage in Celina on Tuesday, pledging at a news conference to “do absolutely anything that we can” to help tornado victims recover. He said he planned to visit other affected areas later in the day.
Among the most affected areas were Miami, Montgomery and Greene counties.
In Dayton, the seat of Montgomery County, no fatalities and only three minor injuries had been reported in a “miraculous” development, the city’s fire chief, Jeffrey L. Payne, said at a news conference Tuesday morning.
The National Weather Service said several tornadoes, including one described as “large and destructive,” touched down near Dayton, reportedly injuring several people, triggering mass power outages across the state, and causing extensive damage to homes, businesses and roads at the end of Memorial Day.
A National Weather Service storm survey rated the strength of one tornado that hit Beavercreek, Ohio, as an EF3 on the Fujita Tornado Damage Scale, with winds of up to 140 mph. Surveys were continuing as of Tuesday afternoon.
The full extent of the destruction emerged as the sun rose Tuesday morning, revealing caving roofs and tangled power lines. Some structures were reduced to rubble. Debris littered the roadways.
Payne said emergency responders would assess buildings for casualties and structural damage. He noted that there was a danger of gas leaks.
“It’s going to be hazardous,” he said.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said, “The damage was significant, and many citizens and folks are without basic services.”
The storms caused a power outage that affected both water plants and pump stations, the latter of which would not receive backup power until at least midday, Dayton officials said. City leaders issued a boil warning for Montgomery County water customers, and public schools announced they would be closed Tuesday.
“Our community has been tested before, and we have always risen above it,” Whaley said. “Be safe out there, don’t do anything stupid, and have a good day.”
The Ohio Department of Transportation said crews were using snowplows to help clean up debris that was covering Interstate 75 north of downtown Dayton. Although there were no other tornado warnings, there were active flood warnings until early Tuesday.
In Dayton, the city’s utility company said about 55,000 customers were without power. Dayton Power & Light said it expects a multiday restoration effort. The National Weather Service added that it “will be conducting damage surveys for the next few days.” City officials asked residents to conserve water.
Montgomery County officials tweeted the locations of several Red Cross shelters where food and water would be distributed.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) visited Dayton on Tuesday and thanked first responders.
“My heart goes out to the families impacted in the Miami Valley & across Ohio,” he tweeted. In a separate tweet, he said he had spoken with DeWine and pledged to work with Trump if the state requested a national emergency declaration.
The massive recovery effort comes after a terrifying and chaotic night that some residents were not sure they would survive.
Michael Sussman, who lives in the Dayton suburb of Brookville, told CNN that he’d had only seconds to take shelter after realizing his home was in the storm’s path.
As the storm descended on his house, he recalled, “I stood in the middle of the hallway and didn’t know if I was going to survive.”
“I was hit by debris in my head,” Sussman said. “I looked up, and I no longer had a roof.”
At 11 p.m. Monday, the National Weather Service of Wilmington, Ohio, confirmed that tornadoes were on the ground near Trotwood, about eight miles northwest of Dayton, describing the natural disaster as an “extremely dangerous” and “life-threatening situation.” The Weather Service said the tornadoes touched down about 30 minutes apart and affected at least a half-dozen communities in Ohio and eastern Indiana.
WHIO reported that Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald ordered those in need of shelter to be bused to nearby Red Cross shelters. She said on Facebook that power lines and trees were down throughout the city, which has a population of 25,000.
“Please stay in,” she wrote. “Stay safe.”
“First Responders are performing search and rescue operations and debris clearing,” the city of Dayton tweeted.
Officials in Mercer County, about 80 miles from Dayton, told NBC News that at least seven people were hospitalized.
Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck said his office has received “an overwhelming number of calls” and “the public should not call 911 unless something is sparking or someone is injured or in immediate danger,” WDTN reported. In Beavercreek, a Dayton suburb, there was a mandatory evacuation within the subdivisions, according to WHIO. In Celina, Hazel told WDTN that some of the areas looked “like a war zone.”
“Some of the houses were completely moved off their foundations and gone,” he said.
Local outlets highlighted how homes, apartment complexes, schools and businesses became debris following the tornado. Trees were uprooted. The roof of a high school in Brookville was ripped off. The Action Sports Center, a 30,000-square-foot indoor complex in Dayton housing two full-size soccer fields, was left in ruins.
“It’s a complete loss, no way around it,” one of the owners told WHIO. “It’s unsalvageable.”
The devastation in Dayton came in the same weekend that a large tornado in Oklahoma killed at least two people and injured dozens on Saturday, decimating the city of El Reno.
On social media, residents shared photos and videos of the destruction throughout southwestern Ohio. Tenley Taghi was in tears as she filmed what was left of her family’s home. Taghi, who said there were no sirens before the tornado hit, told WDTN that a light pole fell through her home and injured her father, who was pulled out by firefighters. Taghi was in disbelief seeing what had happened to her home, saying repeatedly in her video: “Our house is gone. Oh, my God.”
“I saw the clouds spin backwards, and the trees began to sway uncontrollably, and we took shelter,” she told WDTN. “I was standing on the porch that is no longer standing. We took shelter right as the storm hit.”
In a message to The Post, Taghi said she was all right but shaken up.
“Thankfully, we’re okay,” she said.
Residents in the Dayton area, as well as their family and friends, shared videos and photos of the storm as it was unfolding. Others were still trying to wrap their heads around the catastrophic damage caused to their communities.
As residents went outside to assess the damage, they began recounting their experiences.
“It was shaking and we covered for shelter,” Dwayne Chastain Jr. tweeted. “Pray for my city. It’s pitch black out here.”
Nathan Mann of Trotwood told WDTN that he took cover once he heard the sirens in his area, proceeding to his basement. He compared the scene Monday night to something “out of a movie.” He said he pretty much tied himself to a pole “and hoped to God that nothing would hurt me.” He texted his wife, thinking that he was going to die.
“It felt like someone picked my house up and set it back down,” he said. “When it was over, I couldn’t believe what I saw.”
More from Morning Mix: