Two tornadoes caused significant damage to homes and businesses in Western Clark County on Wednesday night, the second time in two months that the area has been hit by storms producing twisters.
An EF1 tornado ripped through Park Layne in Bethel Twp. with winds of 100 mph, destroying a Sunoco Gas Station and damaging the Mel-o-Dee Restaurant, Family Dollar, Motor Sports of Dayton and more.
A separate EF0 tornado uprooted trees and tore branches off, causing extensive damage at McMahan’s Mobile Home park.
Rescue crews had to free a woman trapped in the Family Dollar on South Dayton-Lakeview Road but no one reported being hurt during the storms Wednesday.
Based on the extent of the damage, Bethel Twp. Fire Chief Jacob King was surprised no one was injured.
“It’s a miracle,” he said.
Local officials received word of the possible tornadoes about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday and worked hard to help residents clean up damage and to get back to normal on Thursday.
“It was frightening,” Bethel Twp. Trustee Nancy Brown said. “It was the blackest cloud I have ever seen. It was low and moving slow and inky black. I never saw a cloud like that.”
The canopy was ripped off the Sunoco and gas pumps were tipped over. The smell of gas could be detected on Thursday morning but no fuel leaked, King said.
Another business on South Dayton-Lakeview Road that was heavily damaged was Motor Sports of Dayton. General Manager Mark Pease said he was surprised by how much was destroyed.
“When we finally got up here there was a lot of damage on the front of the building with the big tubes from across the street thrown through the show room … All the glass broken out,” he said.
The business closed at 7 p.m. so luckily no one was there, he said. The motorcycles and other vehicles were damaged in the storm, he said, but it can all be replaced. He said the structure of the building remains sturdy.
Park Layne resident said they were happy no one was hurt. Peggy Aten is the deli manager at Community Market across the street from the Sunoco.
“Our roof is laying in the parking lot. I haven’t been inside yet but I know that last night I was standing in my front porch and I saw a big flash light,” Aten said. “I ran in and grabbed my mom and put her in the bathroom and came back out and watched it come right down this way. I watched a whole big black cloud roll through.”
The popular local restaurant Mel-O-Dee had extensive damage and will be closed for at least a week, Director of Environmental Health at the Clark County Combined Health District Larry Shaffer said.
“We determined that our main focus is the food service operations are safe,” he said. “There are 10 affected food services in the area and we inspected all of them.”
He said the majority of them opened Thursday. But Mel-O-Dee needs to make repairs before doing so, including fixing cracks.
Trees smashed through many mobile homes at the McMahan’s Mobile Homes park in Medway on Wednesday.
Many residents there said they were watching WHIO TV Stormcenter 7 when they were alerted they needed to find a safe place fast.
MORE COVERAGE: Residents clean up damage after 2 tornadoes hit Clark County
“I was watching the news, watching Channel 7 news and it showed it coming this way and I was looking and said, ‘It’s coming right for this mobile home park,’” Robin Elam. “That’s when I went outside, the rain stopped and got real calm and that’s when it hit.”
He said he crawled in his hot rod that has a roll cage.
“I thought it was going to pick me up and carry me away,” he said.
Leana Sexton said she heard the storm Wednesday night but didn’t think much of it until she stepped outside.
“If you come down our street and there’s trailers with literally trees on top of them snapped in half,” she said.
Sharon Campbell also lives in the McMahan’s park and her home has a pretty big hole in the roof that let water in all night.
“I heard a big kaboom, kaboom on my trailer and about a 30 feet branch fell out of a tree and hit my trailer,” she said.
The American Red Cross in Clark County had opened a temporary shelter Wednesday night at the Medway United Methodist Church for residents of an apartment complex evacuated due to the storms.
It closed the shelter on Thursday but the Red Cross will continue to provide accommodations for any residents who cannot return to their apartments and are unable to find alternative housing.
“The Red Cross is also working one-on-one with residents who ask for assistance to make sure they have the resources they need to pick up after the storm,” according to a statement.
Volunteers with the agencies are also helping with damage assessment — providing clean-up materials, relief assistance and educational material.
It’s unclear how long the cleanup could take, King said, and crews were still doing damage assessments on Thursday.
Bethel Twp. also was hit by an EF0 twister on April 5, flattening a barn.
Stormcenter 7 Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs said she expects today to be dry but storms might pop up this weekend. There’s no indication of another tornado coming to Clark County though, she said.
The amount of tornadoes that has hit Western Clark County recently might just be bad luck, Vrydaghs said.
“It’s just conditions coming together in that location that allows a tornado to form in that area,” she said. “There is no geographical reason.”