Tornadoes touched ground in the Dayton, Ohio area, and were spotted in several counties, as live scanner audio captured unfolding search and rescues, with rescuers reporting demolished houses and businesses and trapped people. You can see photos and videos throughout this article documenting significant damage.
In the morning, Montgomery County announced there were widespread power outages but no fatalities and released this map of affected areas. A death was reported in Mercer County after a car went into an elderly person’s home. He was named as Melvin Delhanna.
“You can definitely see the path of the tornado…there is extensive property damage, residences, businesses, trees uprooted, power outages, gas. It’s pretty extensive,” the Montgomery County sheriff, Rob Streck, said on NBC. He said there had been no serious injuries, calling that “amazing when you see the amount of damage that was done.” He said secondary search teams were going out to look inside houses, however. “There are some rural areas that were affected.” He mentioned Trotwood and Brookville. In a press conference, authorities indicated there were three minor injuries.
Photos captured scenes of great devastation.
“A large, dangerous tornado touched down last night in northwest Montgomery County, we are focused on supporting life saving measures, such as shutting down gas lines or locating people who are trapped by debris. Call 911 or contact your local fire station for emergency assistance,” that county wrote on Twitter.
The damage to the Dayton metropolitan area was described as “catastrophic” and “unbelievable.” In Trotwood, the mayor reported “extensive” damage throughout the community. Pictures emerged of the damage. At least 12 people were injured in Mercer County, Ohio. Tornadoes were spotted in Darke, Mercer, Miami and Montgomery Counties, according to WHIO-TV.
“Two shelters in western Ohio have been set up due to severe storms: one in Greene County and another in Mercer County. Greene County: Hawker Church, 1617 N. Longview St., Beavercreek, Ohio, 45432. Mercer County: Coldwater Eagles Lodge, 101 W. Walnut St. Coldwater, Ohio, 45838,” the Ohio Emergency Management Agency wrote. People were described as having to climb over trees to check on their families:
Videos showed damage to Dayton businesses. Mary McDonald, the mayor of nearby Trotwood, wrote on Facebook: “Trotwood is in a search and rescue mode. Call 911 if you need help.” She told an NBC affiliate that apartment complexes were being evacuated.
A Subway restaurant and Family Dollar were among businesses described as “gone.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Videos & Photos Showed Destruction to Numerous Dayton-Area Communities
Frightening stories of damage and trauma began to emerge in the hours after the tornadoes passed through. Local journalists spoke to a family who lost their home, among other stories of destruction and loss.
In Brookville, school was cancelled for May 28 after part of the roof blew off, the superintendent said to WHIO-TV.
Journalist Tessa DiTirro shared a series of photos on Twitter showing damage in Beavercreek.
Some photos were outside Fairfield Commons Mall.
Another photo showed damage to a tire and battery store.
“We have a house that was cut in half over here,” a rescuer said on the scanner around 12:23 a.m. on May 28, 2019, showing the urgency and severity of the situation. Another said a “house was leveled.” It was not yet clear how many people were wounded or dead, if any.
However, rescuers were discussing efforts to extricate people. “Multiple structures collapsed…one person trapped,” said another rescuer on the scanner. They referred to the “Westbrook corridor.”
The steeple snapped at the New Life Worship Center, but no one inside was injured:
Photos showed a destroyed gas station.
According to WHIO-TV, damage included roofs gone in Dayton; damaged houses in Riverside; injuries and damage in Brookville (including to the high school and on Westbrook); and in other areas.
The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down, writing, “[11:00 PM] CONFIRMED LARGE AND DANGEROUS TORNADO ON THE GROUND NEAR TROTWOOD, OHIO. EXTREMELY DANGEROUS SITUATION. TAKE COVER NOW IN NORTHERN MONTGOMERY COUNTY, OHIO. DO NOT TRY TO SPOT AT NIGHTTIME!”
It was later reported that tornadoes were spotted in multiple Ohio counties.
Scanner Traffic Discussed the ‘Walking Wounded’ as People Shared Photos on Social Media
One man wrote that it was the first time he had encountered a tornado, and shared the above photos.
Numerous adults and children – as many as 25 – were hiding in a bathroom at the New Life Worship Center, per another scanner report.
People expressed shock after seeing photos sent to them by relatives.
Authorities were inundated with 911 calls.
Damage was reported in Trotwood, a community in the Dayton metropolitan area. “We will send the walking wounded to Trinity,” a rescuer said.
Reporter Sean Cudahy of WHIO-TV reported that “virtually an entire neighborhood (was) destroyed” in Celina. On scanner traffic, rescue officials referred to “wounded” people and were conducting searches. They referred to significant damage to structures. Be aware that the situation was still unfolding with very active rescue activity on the scanner.
Downed Trees & Power Lines Were Reported Throughout the Dayton Area
“We’re searching as well as we can,” said one rescuer on the scanner. Wires and downed trees made passing some streets difficult or even impossible. “All the lines down in the road,” said another rescuer on the scanner.
People were asked to avoid I-75 north of downtown Dayton.
“DAYTON: Avoid I-75 north of downtown Dayton. Our crews are assisting with debris clean up from a tornado that hit about an hour ago. Please give them and emergency crews room to work,” wrote the Ohio Department of transportation.
Snow plows were used to clear tornado debris.
The tornado threat to Dayton was abating.
The National Weather Service office serving Dayton wrote this: “[12:02 AM] Currently there is no radar-confirmed or spotter-confirmed tornado activity. However, multiple storms remain capable of producing tornadoes. Do not let your guard down. There are still several dangerous storms moving through the area!”
However, numerous tornado warnings remained active shortly after midnight.
Marc Weinberg, WDRB-TV meteorologist, wrote on Twitter, “‘Multiple building collapses. Numerous injuries’ per scanner traffic from Montgomery county in Ohio where a tornado hit at about 10:45 pm eastern.” That information had yet to be confirmed by authorities. “Listening to this scanner traffic out of Montgomery county, OH is just scary,” he noted.
Rescuers Reported People Being Trapped & Gas Leaks in Scanner Audio
The scanner carried reports of people being trapped in a basement in Trotwood, Ohio and gas leaks in Montgomery County in the suburbs of Dayton.
The area was hit with seven tornado warnings.
People shared photos of hail.
“[11:40 PM] DEBRIS BEING LOFTED INTO THE AIR FROM A TORNADO NEAR VANDALIA OHIO MOVING SOUTH. TAKE COVER IN SHILOH, DAYTON, NORTHRIDGE, AND HUBER HEIGHTS. THIS IS A DANGEROUS SITUATION!!!” the NWS office wrote. A minute earlier, this report: “Suspected tornado near Vandalia as of 11:38. Crossing the path of the first tornado.”
The NWS warned people that the tornado was threatening Dayton: “[11:34 PM] NEW TORNADO THREAT FOR THE DAYTON METRO AREA. STORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO LOCATED NEAR ENGLEWOOD MOVING SOUTHEAST. TAKE COVER NOW IN THE DAYTON AREA!!!!” wrote NWS. And this: “[11:22 PM] NEW TORNADO THREAT FOR EXTREME NORTHERN MONTGOMERY COUNTY AND SOUTHERN MIAMI COUNTY. ANOTHER TORNADO POSSIBLE NEAR THE COUNTY LINE. TAKE SHELTER NOW!”
The extent of damage was not yet clear but seemed dire based on social media and scanner reports.
The situation was unfolding, but people took to social media with reports of damage. “We just took a direct hit from a tornado. Our street is in ruins! Urbana Avenue @whiotv NO SIRENS HEARD!” one person wrote on Twitter.
One man wrote that it would be frightening what the scene would show in daylight.