Preparedness helping speed up tornado recovery


By Scott Halasz - shalasz@aimmediamidwest.com



Debris is piled over 15 feet high at Greene County Environmental Services in Xenia.

Debris is piled over 15 feet high at Greene County Environmental Services in Xenia.


Photos courtesy City of Beavercreek The Memorial Day tornado was caught on a doorbell camera as it moved toward the Spicer Heights neighborhood. It’s approaching the house across the street to the right of the tree.


FAIRBORN — Six months and $3 million later, the City of Beavercreek is still in recovery mode from the devastating Memorial Day tornadoes that hit the Dayton Area.

And if not for some advanced planning, the restoration could be more difficult than it already is. That was one of the messages Planning and Development Director Jeff McGrath had as he updated a group assembled for Greene County’s Second Annual Developer’s Breakfast just a couple miles from where the storm hit.

“It’s hard to prepare for every aspect of a natural disaster,” McGrath said. “You’re never going to be made whole.”

And although city leaders weren’t anticipating nor expecting a massive twister to roar through the area, they had the foresight to have agreements in place with contractors. By doing so, they avoided the bid process and sped up the removal of debris, some of which was piled 15 feet high along a path at Greene County environmental Services in Xenia.

“Preparedness is something that is absolutely critical,” McGrath said. “Having contracts in place. It was absolutely worth it. We had snowplows out right away … just to make it passable for first responders.”

The city spent between $26,000 and $32,000 daily on tornado cleanup and will incur more expense getting the branches and other debris shredded and cleaned up.

McGrath said he was hopeful FEMA will reimburse up to 75 percent of the cost but it isn’t known when the exact amount will be calculated.

“We’re working through that process,” he said.

In all, 756 buildings were affected. One was deemed inaccessible, while 86 buildings were destroyed, 206 sustained major damage, and 395 had minor damage. In addition, main and arterial roads were closed, signals weren’t working, debris blocked roads, and there were staffing challenges and equipment shortages.

“It’s hard to comprehend how bad it was because it didn’t last that long,” McGrath said.

But in less than 12 hours private groups, including Be Hope Church sprang to action to help begin the clean-up process. There were more than, 2,500 volunteers and help came from 34 other communities, according to McGrath. They filled trucks, churches, wagons, and minivans with supplies for those who were displaced or just needed a bottle of water.

“It really was a testament to our community,” he said. “A lot of credit needs to be given to our first responders.”

The clean-up continues daily and to date, 173 permits related to tornado damaged homes and buildings have been issued. All fees were waived for those affected, saving residents around $7,000 McGrath said.

Debris is piled over 15 feet high at Greene County Environmental Services in Xenia.
https://www.xeniagazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2019/12/web1_Brush.jpgDebris is piled over 15 feet high at Greene County Environmental Services in Xenia.

Photos courtesy City of Beavercreek The Memorial Day tornado was caught on a doorbell camera as it moved toward the Spicer Heights neighborhood. It’s approaching the house across the street to the right of the tree.
https://www.xeniagazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2019/12/web1_Funnel.jpgPhotos courtesy City of Beavercreek The Memorial Day tornado was caught on a doorbell camera as it moved toward the Spicer Heights neighborhood. It’s approaching the house across the street to the right of the tree.

By Scott Halasz

shalasz@aimmediamidwest.com

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.