More than 5 million people were left without power after a series of tornadoes ripped through parts of Ohio and Indiana late Monday, destroying homes and severing power lines – the latest installment in a two-week span of powerful tornadoes and thunderstorms that has rocked the Midwest, leaving nine dead.
State officials in Ohio told the press that they have confirmed at least seven people were injured in the storms. The town of Celina in Mercer County, about 80 miles north of Dayton, sustained extensive damage, prompting the Ohio Department of Transportation to employ snow plows to remove debris off Interstate 75. Across the region, the NWS issued 36 tornado warnings.
The agency confirmed a “large and dangerous” tornado on the ground near the suburb of Trotwood in Montgomery County shortly before midnight.
“We probably have more than a handful of tornadoes that we need to look at on the ground throughout the region, maybe even more,” said John Franks, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio.
The City of Montgomery said it was focusing on ‘life-saving’ measures.
“A large, dangerous tornado touched down last night in northwest Montgomery County,” the county said in a statement. “We are focused on supporting life-saving measures, such as shutting down gas lines or locating people who are trapped by debris.”
BREAKING: Two major tornadoes hit Dayton In Ohio. Reports of catastrophic damage and multiple injuries:pic.twitter.com/HVhzRGMyUL
— Live Report (@tweetlivereport) May 28, 2019
One Dayton resident told NBC that a tornado destroyed her entire street, adding that she didn’t hear any warning sirens before the storm. A pastor at a church in northern Dayton said one of the storms destroyed his office.
“I saw the clouds spin backwards and the trees began to sway uncontrollably and we took shelter,” she said. “I was standing on the porch that is no longer standing.”
Scott Ritz, a pastor at Northright Wesleyan Church in northern Dayton, told NBC News early Tuesday morning that there was “tremendous damage.”
“My corner office is no longer there,” Ritz said of his church building. “It’s in the parking lot.”
Four shelters opened in Montgomery County overnight to offer cover, food and water to distraught residents. Though ironically, one shelter lost power soon after opening.
Thanks to outages at pump stations and water-treatment plants, Dayton officials warned residents to boil their water before drinking.
Frightening video of aftermath of tornado in Dayton sent to us by a viewer. She says it’s off Troy Street. Many viewers have said the damage looks like a war zone… @ABC22FOX45 #daytontornado pic.twitter.com/X8fjz8Pk47
— Adam Aaro (@AdamFox45Now) May 28, 2019
In nearby Mercer County, at least seven people were hospitalized for injuries sustained during the storm – though thankfully nobody died. The town of Celina, a town of about 10,000 residents about 72 miles northwest of Dayton, saw ‘numerous’ homes destroyed.
The Mercer County Emergency Management Director says that emergency crews are focusing their efforts on search and rescue. Residents are asked to stay off roadways if possible. https://t.co/9GbvD8CyM9
— WDTN (@WDTN) May 28, 2019
The mayor of Celina said his town looked like ‘a war zone’ after the storms.
“It looks in areas like a war zone, some of the houses were completely moved off their foundations and gone,” Celina Mayor Jeffrey Hazel told WDTN.
At least one Dayton suburb, the town of Beavercreek, issued an emergency warning telling residents to watch out for gas leaks while crews worked to clear downed power lines.
Earlier in the weekend, tornadoes also touched down in Colorado, Iowa and Oklahoma. Tornadoes were also reported in the Eastern part of Ohio.