Memorial Day tornado two years later: Destroyed apartments remain virtually untouched
May 27—Darius Stephens, 23, was trying to rest following a double shift at Chipotle when he recalled having an eerie feeling on
His mother called him around
They sat in the bathtub as the rain outside slowed and the tornado sirens blared. Stephens said he remembers a brief moment of calm and quiet before the rain resumed and violent wind gusts up to 170 mph snapped trees and took down powerlines.
“It was an indescribable feeling. At the time you just feel so small like you’re protected in this big building and then you just feel the building shaking. It started getting louder, louder, and louder,” he said
When the quiet returned, Stephens went outside to complete darkness in what used to be a well lit parking lot. With his first steps he could feel the castle like roofing of his building at his feet.
It has been two years today since the powerful EF4 tornado ripped through the
Ruins remain from apartments
The apartment had over 430 units housing over which will keep at least 400 families from returning to the city that were displaced.
“There are efforts to clean up and restore the Woodland Hills apartments. The owners have held several conversations with city leadership informing us of their desire to rebuild the complex in
However, if something isn’t done soon the buildings will be beyond repair, said Director of Housing for the Trotwood Community Improvement Corporation
“The fact that we’re coming up on two years and this apartment complex is still sitting like this is extremely disappointing for us, but when we take the entire recovery effort, we’re very excited about how this has gone forward,” he said. “We’ve been using the tools that we have available to us through code enforcement and those aspects to apply pressure and encourage the redevelopment.”
Currently, Woodland Hills is riddled with trees, branches, appliances, and other debris throughout the parking lot and no trespassing signs along the main entrance. The roofs of several buildings remain exposed to the sky and some with blue tarps covering damaged shingles.
Trees jut from behind the perimeter fencing and hang over the sidewalk. The missing siding and roofing give a direct view into what used to be someone’s home. Forced to leave their things behind, families belongings are still where they left them two years ago.
“Sometimes I do appreciate it, I’m glad I got out of that, but I do feel a way that they didn’t build nothing or they didn’t do anything with that space and now it’s just there,” Stephens said. He lived in
Forced to move from their homes
About 1,800 residents of multifamily housing units in
According to the
“We can state that we would like to see it restored to the affordable workforce housing it was prior to the tornado. We will do what we can within the scope of our authority to assist with that process,” Kellum said.
Downing said the city is more than willing to assist as much as possible with rebuilding and recovery the same way they provided assistance to the owners of
While many single family homes were destroyed from the tornado, the renting population took a very hard hit with roughly half of
Helping others move back in
Local organizations like the
“If you exclude Woodland Hills, the recovery has actually been just tremendous,” Downing said.
While some families look forward to rebuilding or returning to the city others have made their home elsewhere.
“It is our understanding that the majority of
Following the tornado Stephens and his family including his mother, father, girlfriend, his siblings, and their dog stayed in two hotel rooms in
About six minutes away from Woodland Hills, the
“I will tell you, it would have been the easiest thing to walk away,” Penn said. “We fought the insurance company, lenders, adjusters, engineers, everybody everyday for months.”
The continued kindness and support of the community and ultimately feeling that it was their responsibility to rebuild the homes lost made the choice to fight to rebuild hard to walk away from Penn said.
With help from Mayor
“Sometimes you don’t need money. Sometimes you just need someone to have your back,” Penn said.
Although Stephens is enjoying his place at
Where to still get help, donate
Residents affected by the 2019
Assistance for homeowners
Homeowners needing assistance should contact the
Rebuilding Together Dayton
Rebuilding Together Dayton is still offering assistance to homeowners who need help with tornado repairs. For help call 937-223-4893 visit online at https://rtdayton.org/disasterrecovery or email [email protected].
Tornado Survivors’ Pathways to Homeownership Program
How to apply: Tornado-impacted non-homeowners who would like to become mortgage-ready to own a home can apply for the program at www.homeownershipdayton.org.
How to donate: You can contribute to the Tornado Survivors’ Pathways to
How to apply: The program will help replace 1,000 trees in tornado-damaged areas. Impacted homeowners interested in having free, native trees planted at their homes can apply at www.retreet.org/mvtc.
How to donate: You can contribute financially to the Miami Valley TREEcovery Campaign (Fund #8647) at
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