Sunday, April 11, 1999
The rebuilding begins
As victims survey damange
community rallies to help
BY HOWARD WILKINSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Saturday, under blue skies, hundreds of Tristate residents whose lives were shattered by Friday's killer tornado began the painful task of looking for hope in the rubble.
It was clear that, for many, the road back to a normal life would be a long and hard one.
From Addyston to Montgomery to Deerfield Township, dozens of home and business owners in the tornado-ravaged areas, armed with chain saws and shovels, fanned out across their neighborhoods Saturday morning to see the devastation for the first time in the light of day.
Hundreds of volunteers poured into the affected areas, offering their time and muscle in clean-up and reconstruction.
Amid the shock of seeing their devastated homes, there was some good news for those homeowners, apartment dwellers and businesses with uninsured tornado loss.
U.S. Rep. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, said U.S. Small Business Administration officials assured him that storm-damaged areas in Blue Ash and Montgomery would qualify for low-interest loans to rebuild.
The tornado, which cut a swath from southeast Indiana to Warren County, took the lives of four people in a few brief minutes Friday morning. Dozens were injured and damage was estimated in the tens of millions of dollars.
What surprised some Saturday was that the loss of life wasn't greater.
You look at what's left of these houses and you wonder ... How did they live through it? said Montgomery Fire Chief Paul Wright. It's very remarkable.
The Cincinnati Chapter of the American Red Cross officials hope to have everyone out of emergency shelters and into temporary living quarters by today, said spokeswoman Barb Giles. They closed the shelter at Sycamore Junior High School Saturday night, and expected to close Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy shelter today.
While the agency won't be providing shelter, it will continue to truck meals to residents in the damaged areas and plans to open a service center to help storm victims get any help they may still need, she said.
The Ohio Emergency Management Agency estimated Saturday that 900 homes in Hamilton, Clinton and Warren Counties suffered at least some damage.
By Saturday night, all but three of the dozens treated at area hospitals had gone home.
But an unidentified 75-year-old man died at Bethesda North Hospital Saturday morning after suffering cardiac arrest at the Doubletree Guest Suites in Sharonville. Sharonville fire officials said the man's family had been displaced by the storm.
Perry Brothers, Janice Morse, and Phil Pina contributed to this report.
PICKING UP THE PIECES
Pinpointing the damage in the Tristate
Homeowners sort out emotions, scattered memories
Where to donate, where to get help
Orphaned dog has broken pelvis, heart
Devoted pair died together
'When God calls, we must go'
Sirens not designed to penetrate buildings
Did you hear the sirens?
New home, owners spared
Utility crews, municipal workers out in force
Volunteers offer goods, hands, time
Mother Nature's worst brings out the best in human nature
Church members shed tears, give thanks
Hoosiers pitch in to help neighbors
Insurance adjusters bring checks, reassuring words
Warren County took blow, too
One year later, Alabama tornado victims still rebuilding
Coping with the storm
Coping with the storm: Returning to your home