Saturday, April 10, 1999

Storms' memories linger after damage is repaired

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The pieces of homes and trees strewn by Friday's twister symbolize the struggle facing its victims. The scenes also recall the triumphant recovery of other neighborhoods and towns crushed by a funnel's fury.

        Living in tornado territory, Tristate residents routinely face tornado watches and warnings in the spring and fall. Some storms simply pass over, leaving little or no trace behind. Some, like Friday's, hack through communities, leaving only devastation.

        “This is one of the most significant events we've had maybe in the last 10 years, especially in the Cincinnati metropolitan area,” said Greg Tipton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington. The last tornado to cut a similar swath of destruction hit Dearborn, Hamilton and Butler counties in June 1990.

        President Bush declared all three counties disaster-relief areas. More than a dozen people were injured. In Bright, Ind., 50 houses were demolished and 163 severely damaged. In Harrison, 20 houses were destroyed and 90 had major damage. In the Butler County community of Port Union, the twister damaged seven trailers, leaving five families homeless.

        The worst tornado to hit the area touched down April 3, 1974. It was part of a “super outbreak” in 11 states. In all, there were 127 tornadoes, killing 300 people and injuring more than 6,000.

        In Sayler Park, 130 people were injured and 69 homes were destroyed. Hundreds more houses were damaged. Five people were killed in Hamilton County.

        Dozens of homes in Green Township were damaged, and another tornado cut through Butler County, injuring 80 and damaging 500 homes.

        The single hardest-hit location in all 11 states was about 60 miles northeast of Cincinnati in Xenia, where 33 people were killed, 1,600 injured and more than 1,400 buildings damaged or destroyed.

        Twenty-five years after the disaster, the city of 25,000 takes pride in its recovery. Within a year, more than 80 percent of the homes had been rebuilt.

        Within four years, Xenia had rebuilt and revitalized its devastated town center. The residents also remembered those they lost. The names of the 33 killed by the twister are etched into a polished granite memorial outside the town's municipal building.


Hope emerges from the rubble
Sirens worked, but some slept through
Families flew from their beds
Bengals coach: 'God's hand on me'
Driver got upside-down trip on freeway median
Photographer encounters death, devastation
House is a cheap price to pay for life
Community safe, serene and vulnerable
In Addyston and Ripley County, some feel blessed just to be alive
Survivors eager to swap stories
Two died in field; two died on roads
Adjusters quick to arrive at disaster
To file a claim
Dealing with storm aftermath
Don't rush repairs after storm
Tips to picking a contractor
Kids need help to overcome grief, fears
Talking to kids
Phones, power out until Sunday
Rescue team did tough job
Storm could spur support for tax levy
- Storms' memories linger after damage is repaired
Mobilization was instant
Tornado tales
TV/radio stations had reason to boast
Volunteers grab chain saws, mops as workers untangle wires
At least 7 businesses destroyed
911 calls reveal confusion, fear