A crane lifts the new air conditioner to the roof of the Mel-O-Dee restaurant in Park Layne. The restaurant sustained damage from the tornado last month. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF
Photo: Jeff Guerini
Photo: Jeff Guerini

Repairs going slowly after tornado damage in Park Layne

Businesses in Park Layne are recovering from the damage left by a tornado that hit the area about three weeks ago, but owners say it’s taking much longer than they anticipated.

The Mel-O-Dee restaurant, a Park Layne mainstay on Ohio 235, had air conditioning units ripped off the building and suffered electrical damage when the building was hit by an EF-1 tornado on May 24. It was one of six tornadoes that hit the Miami Valley that night from Piqua to Warren County.

RELATED: 2 of 6 tornadoes were on ground at same time during last week’s storms

The restaurant has been closed for repairs ever since but now its owners have set a tentative opening date — June 26.

“We’re working real hard,” General Manager Woody Childers said. “Every contractor is on the job and doing their job and we can’t say enough good things about them.”

They’ve taken the opportunity to make upgrades to the restaurant, too.

“We’re doing some decorating inside,” he said, “put some new flooring down.”

But Childers didn’t expect the repairs would take so long.

“The night we first came in we thought 10 days, two weeks,” he said. “And the more we got into it, it was a much bigger job than we thought.”

READ MORE: Park Layne cleaning up after tornado, Mel-o-Dee to be closed for weeks

Across the street, Sunoco gas station owner Dave Closey has had similar thoughts. His business suffered extensive damage. The awning over the gas pumps collapsed, he said, plus there was a lot of damage to the business’s main building and storage building.

“We’re making progress but it’s very slow. An awful lot of people involved in this.”

Closey has to make repair plans with the county, state and his insurance company, he said, to make sure no gasoline gets into the ground and affects the drinking water.

“It takes a long time to get organized,” he said.

He isn’t sure when the gas station will back up and running fully.

McMahan’s Mobile Home park was also hit by the tornado. Several trees fell near Ronald Wuertz’s home. But he was impressed with the cleanup effort.

DETAILS: Mel-O-Dee Restaurant sets tentative date to reopen after tornado repairs

“The next morning,” he said. “They were working on it right away.”

A few neighbors had trees fall on their homes, he said, but everything seems to be almost back to normal for the neighborhood.

The Park Layne area didn’t have enough damage to qualify for state or federal relief money, Bethel Twp. Fire Chief Jacob King said.

The county would have to reach a certain threshold of properties that had major damage or were destroyed, he said.

Two businesses and four homes had major damage, he said, while one home and one business were destroyed. Those numbers would have to reach 25, he said, before the county could move forward to see if it could declare a state of emergency.

Most people who were impacted were insured, he said.

King said the community still wants to help businesses to reopen.

“We’re trying to support and coordinate all the resources needed to assist the businesses in restoring them back to full service,” he said.

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