I have always enjoyed Memorial Day. It has been a time for great reflection on the sacrifices that others have made which has allowed me the freedoms that I sometimes take for granted. This year was the 75th anniversary of D Day with all of the pageantry that helped remind us of the great sacrifices that were made on that day to secure freedoms for the world.
As the day came to an end, the night sky changed from a beautiful sunset to a summer like thunderstorm. The pleasant thought of drifting off to sleep to the sounds of rain dancing on the roof with the roll of thunder in the distance was shattered by the sounds of tornado sirens blaring all around.
It was so dark and rainy that you couldn’t see anything. My phone gave me a message at 10:45 p.m. to take cover because a tornado had been spotted in my area. I went to the first floor of my house and turned on the TV to find out more information, but my TV kept going to no signal.
All of a sudden the rain had stopped as if someone had turned off a faucet. Everything got deathly still. I called my parents to find out if they still had TV and could let me know what was going on. Although the tornado sirens had stopped, I had received another take cover warning on my phone at 11:06 pm. My parents informed me that a tornado was on the ground in Trotwood heading towards my direction.
All of a sudden the wind picked up and the rain came pouring down. Every time the thunder roared it shook my house so violently that I thought it was going to collapse. Outside came loud noises that sounded like cannons and bombs going off. I could hear things breaking and falling. This violent force of nature seemed like it was going on for an hour, but in reality it was only several minutes.
The TV flickered and all that I could think of was being ready to tell my parents that I loved them for the last time. Looking out the windows, all I could see was strong winds bending tree branches every time the lightning flashed. The lights in my neighbors’ houses across the street went out.
As quickly as it came, it was gone. My parents put the phone up to their TV so I could hear that the storm was over. After telling my parents I loved them and hung up my phone, I quickly checked the inside of my house for any damage. Seeing none, I went back upstairs to bed. When I reached, my bed my phone went off again warning me to take cover because a tornado was spotted in my area. It was around 11:20 p.m. However, the weather forecasters were saying that the storms had passed and we were in the clear.
I didn’t get much sleep that night for fear of another storm happening. In the morning, I noticed that the water in my sink was a low trickle. I wondered what my drive would be like heading to work since I live in a wooded neighborhood. There was very little tree damage, but several stop lights were either out or blinking red.
Later in the morning I found out that 2 pumping stations had lost power due to the storm and my area was under a boil advisory. At lunch, I came home to check on my property. The only damage that I had were a few large branches and several small branches in my yard. My veggie garden with its fence was fine. I moved the branches to my woods where I could retrieve it a few days later and with the help of a friend, take it to the yard waste place.
After work I decided to go to Huber Heights to get some water at a store as I knew that Dayton might be out of water. On the drive there from my house, I discovered how lucky I had been. Just up the road and around the curve from my house is where the major damage from the storm started. There were several big trees down on houses, lawns and the road. The drug store where I get my prescriptions had its entrance blown in and siding blown off its side walls. The Family Dollar store was totally gone. There were sheriff’s deputies manning the intersection of Siebenthaler and Dixie. No driving north on Dixie was allowed due to downed power line.
The hotel and neighborhood east of I-75 looked like a war zone. There were many destroyed houses along with some houses with minor damage. The trees looked like toothpicks reaching up to the sky with their leafy arms. Just to view this devastation, left a sickening feeling in my stomach.
Although there’s been much division in this country, the citizens of the Dayton area have been rolling up their sleeves and helping out their fellow citizens. The neighborhood chain saw brigade was out helping clean up trees that their skills allowed. A neighbor was offering to sharpen chain blades for free for these responders. African American churches provided food and water to everyone. There’s a lot of love going on even though it has been nearly a month since the EF4 tornado ripped through my neighborhood.
Surviving a strong force of nature can wreak havoc on the psyche. I still get extremely nervous when we have thunderstorms and strong winds. I also have troubles sleeping when it’s storming. My stomach gets very queasy and my head starts hurting.
The more I can share this story, the more healing I feel. If you are ever helping someone who has lived through a tornado or other devastating forces of nature, please let them tell their stories. It can go along way to helping them feel whole again.