Recovering from the Memorial Day Tornadoes

Twenty-one tornadoes ranging from EF0 to EF4 were counted across west- and south-central Ohio during Memorial Day weekend. Winds as high as 170 mph came quickly and hit hard, one of which—now labeled as the strongest tornado in Montgomery County’s history—destroyed 19 miles of homes, trees, vehicles, land, and more in its path.

The tornadoes came fast, though the recovery will take time—years, by some estimates. Families have been displaced, and many have had to start from scratch replacing not only their homes but their clothing, furniture, transportation, and more. But true to our reputation, Community Action has jumped in to fill the gaps and help people whose lives have been changed by the storms.

FEMA’s preliminary estimates have indicated over 1700 homes and buildings across Ohio have been damaged with over half of them either “destroyed or significantly damaged.” More recent estimates have increased that number to over 3000, according to Cherish Chronmiller, CEO of Miami Valley Community Action Partnership. The numbers could continue to rise, however, and won’t be finalized until after FEMA completes their assessment of each household impacted, which will take several months.

Red Cross shelters have been closed due to capacity, and the University of Dayton shelters are filling up quickly. An existing affordable housing shortage has been exacerbated by the destruction of at least three multi-unit complexes in the Miami Valley area.

Since the storms raged through the region, MVCAP has secured housing, furniture, and/or transportation for 36 low-income households, and they are working to help over 200 more who have submitted requests for tornado-related assistance. To accomplish this, the agency has reached out to landlords, the local apartment association, partners, and more to secure homes that are not only move-in ready, but that also fit within households’ budgets and can be maintained after the relocation assistance has been exhausted. To help with this search, MVCAP has created a Google Map marking available rental units so that families can locate housing suitable for their work and transportation

In addition to the agency’s other programs such as their new legal clinic, weatherization services, transportation, family services, microenterprise startup assistance, and more, MVCAP has a created a the Tornado Recovery Assistance program which may help secure housing with deposit assistance, provide furniture, or even repair vehicles damaged or lost in the storm.

Areas within the West Ohio Community Action Partnership territory have also been heavily impacted by the storms. Together with the Emergency Management Agency Recovery Committee, WOCAP is able to provide repairs to low-income families’ homes damaged by the winds of the tornado.

To support the recovery efforts, monetary donations are being accepted. To donate to the Miami Valley Community Action Program, visit the Tornado Recovery Assistance page and click donate. Donations for the Mercer County area can be mailed to: Celina Rotary Disaster Relief Fund, P.O. Box 22, Celina, Ohio 45822 .