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Tornado Devastates Cincinnati Suburbs

Tornado destroys 200 homes

Six deaths recorded in Midwest; Cincinnati suburbs hardest hit

By John Nolan, Associated Press, April 10, 1999

CINCINNATI - A tornado with 200-mile-per-hour winds demolished about 200 houses in two Cincinnati suburbs before daybreak yesterday, killing four people and leaving yards littered with bricks, broken two-by-fours, and tattered roofs.

In the Cincinnati suburbs of Montgomery and Blue Ash, water spewed into the air from broken fire hydrants, and shopping center parking lots were strewn with broken glass. Sheet metal that had been siding was wrapped around utility poles. Stately pines and thick sycamore and maple trees were yanked out by the roots.

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ABC Nightly News, April 10, 1999, reported:

At least 60 tornadoes, some the most violent in memory caused millions of dollars in damage, destroying homes, closing roads, killing six people and causing a state of emergency to be declared in three Ohio counties.

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Two other people were killed in Illinois as powerful storms tore through the Midwest overnight.

Lindsey Stiffler, 13, was asleep in her bedroom with the window open in Montgomery when she heard rain and hail and then a roaring noise. She looked out, saw the storm, and fled to the basement with her family.

When they emerged, the back portion of her neighbor's wooden house was split in two, with one side leaning over, she said. Elsewhere on her street, ''there were mattresses and curtains and everything sticking out of the windows,'' she said. ''Roofs were ripped off.''

Jamie McGill, 13, her friend from down the street, told of a similar experience: ''I could hear everything flying through the house, smashing around. I didn't realize what was going on until I got outside. There was glass on the ground. The carport was lying against the house.''

Two people were killed in a house, and two in separate car crashes.

One of the victims, a 40-year-old man, was thrown from his car when the wind flipped it over, Blue Ash Police Chief Mike Allen said. The same gust flipped a tractor-trailer.

Ohio's Emergency Management Agency estimated 200 homes were destroyed in Cincinnati's northeastern suburbs alone. The utility Cinergy said about 200,000 customers lost power. Most service had been restored by the afternoon.

The storm also flipped motor homes and campers that convert to tents at the Dave Arbogast dealership in Tipp City, north of Dayton. ''We got about 10 tent campers in a nice, neat pile,'' said Ron West, a manager.

Governor Bob Taft said officials had no estimate of damage. He declared three counties emergency areas.

''We saw homes where walls were torn down and chairs, tables and computers were sitting there untouched,'' he said. ''It's a total rebuilding effort.''

In Ashland, Ill., a community of 1,200, a tornado ripped into a trailer park and killed a 68-year-old woman. And a 43-year-old woman was killed in a mobile home in Cisco, 65 miles to the east.

In Iowa, at least nine suspected tornadoes destroyed homes, flattened barns and uprooted trees. A hay baler and other farm equipment were overturned on Deb Frisbie's farm near Adair, Iowa.

''We barely made it to the basement,'' she said. ''We didn't really hear anything. All I was worried about was getting everybody to the basement.''

A tornado also ravaged a five-block area in the Nebraska town of North Bend on Thursday afternoon, damaging 14 homes and leveling one that was under construction. No injuries were reported.

Helga Garay's car was smashed by tree limbs outside her residence in Morse Bluff, south of North Bend. ''Now it's a convertible,'' she said.

The storm also damaged buildings and downed power lines in Missouri.

''I was napping,'' said Margaret Linville, whose barn was destroyed in Barnard, Mo. ''When I roused, the barn was gone.''

In southeastern Indiana, a woman was injured when her mobile home was blown over near Benham, said Joanna Miller, a Ripley County dispatcher. In all, there were at least six people injured in the state, including a man in critical condition after being hit by lightning.

Eight to 10 houses were damaged in and around Dillsboro, Ind., but there were no injuries there, said Bill Black Jr., deputy director of Dearborn County Emergency Management Agency.

Boston Globe on 04/10/99.
© 1999 Globe Newspaper Company

At least 6 killed after tornadoes and high winds destroy homes

MSNBC staff and wire reports April 9, 1999

At least six people were reported killed Friday as tornadoes and severe storms with high winds swept across the Midwest and Plains, destroying homes and buildings in several states before moving east.

One tornado tore through the affluent Ohio suburb of Montgomery, about 20 miles northeast of Cincinnati, and leveled at least 20 homes, a local radio station said. The storm moved on to cut a swathe of destruction in the northeast area of Hamilton County, between the towns of Blue Ash and Montgomery. Two people in the area were killed in a house, and two in separate car crashes, Hamilton County Coroner Carl Parrott said in a statement.

One death was on Interstate 71 northeast of the city, where the wind picked up a car and threw it into a retaining wall, said Blue Ash Lt. Rick Burdick. There were so many accidents and so much debris along the highway that it was closed. At least 31 people went to hospitals, most for treatment of cuts and bruises.

A funnel cloud was spotted at 4:55 a.m. ET and emergency sirens were activated, according to the Hamilton County emergency management office.

NEIGHBORHOODS DECIMATED

Entire neighborhoods were reportedly decimated in Blue Ash and Montgomery. Roofs were torn off stores in shopping centers, and water spewed into the air from broken fire hydrants. Towering trees were uprooted or snapped off.

The storm smashed Jill Cole's house and leveled rows of trees as it barreled through her neighborhood.

"We're going to have to rent an apartment," she said. "I think it's a bulldozer job ... it's like a war zone."

Jessica Brown, 36, of Montgomery, was awakened by her 12-year-old son.

"Then I heard the winds and felt bricks and things falling on me over the blanket," Brown said.

They fled to the basement while the rest of the house was destroyed.

The storm also damaged houses and downed trees and power lines in Champaign County in west central Ohio.

"The roof was taken off a house and was in the middle of the roadway," said Sheriff's Deputy Chris Copeland.

INJURIES FROM FLYING GLASS

Many of those injured in the Cincinnati suburbs had been hit by flying glass. Four or five people at Jewish Hospital-Kenwood suffered more severe injuries but had been stabilized, said hospital spokeswoman Stephanie Savicki.

Cinergy, the utility company that serves most of southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky and southeast Indiana, said a funnel cloud was sighted near Wilmington, about 30 miles to the northeast.

The weather service sent crews out to survey damage from the storms.

The Red Cross set up an aid station at Sycamore Junior High School in Montgomery, and police were going door-to-door checking on people.

"The storm passed so quickly," said Capt. Terry Binford of the Cincinnati Fire Department. But it caused "unbelievable damage."

MIDWEST HAMMERED

Dozens of emergency vehicles converged on Ashland, Ill., a community of 1,200 people northwest of Springfield after winds ripped into a trailer park with 60 to 70 homes late Thursday.

State police spokesman Mark McDonald said one person was killed, an elderly woman who was pulled from the debris that was once her home. Other residents were treated at area hospitals for cuts and bruises.

"We just walked outside and just seen trailers tipping everywhere," said Lori Krenshaw, a resident of South Trailer Park in Ashland. "It was a mess."

In Cisco, 65 miles east of Ashland, a woman was killed when high winds destroyed a farm house, Fire Chief Ron Weishaar said. Three other people in the house were injured.

PATH OF DESTRUCTION

Richard Urkoski was at work when a tornado blew the roof off his home in North Bend, Neb., and caved in the front walls. He later walked around the demolished house, picking up photographs off the floor. "I guess it didn't hit me until I came home and saw it," he said.

A tornado struck a five-block area in the eastern Nebraska town Thursday afternoon, damaging 14 homes and leveling one that was under construction. No injuries were reported. Helga Garay's car was smashed by tree limbs outside her residence in Morse Bluff, south of North Bend. "Now it's a convertible," she said.

Among the hardest hit states was Iowa, where at least nine suspected tornadoes destroyed homes, downed barns and uprooted trees. No injuries were reported.

Deb Frisbie, who lives on a farm southeast of Adair, surveyed the damage to her home. Trees littered her yard, and a hay baler and other farm equipment were overturned. Frisbie said she saw "just black coming at us."

"We barely made it to the basement," she said. "We didn't really hear anything. All I was worried about was getting everybody to the basement." Frisbie's neighbor, Cindy Denny, lost her house to the storm.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

OHIO STORM TOLL RISES AS RESCUE WORK CONTINUES


April 12, 1999

By Bob Weston

CINCINNATI -- (Reuters)-- Damage assessment teams surveying the wreckage in southern Ohio left by tornadoes that packed winds of up to 200 mph (320 kph), said between 400 and 900 homes were damaged by the storm.

"The American Red Cross has estimated that 900 homes have been impacted by the storm," Nancy Dragani, spokeswoman for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (OEMA) said.

"However we assess damage differently and are still saying the number is 400 homes that have been damaged, of which 200 have been destroyed," she said.

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft has declared disaster areas in Hamilton, Warren and Clinton counties, which were hardest hit by the tornadoes that swept through the region early on Friday.

The National Weather Service said it had received reports of 64 tornadoes, some with winds of up to 200 mph (320 kph) in Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Illinois, where two people were killed in the storm.

But the storm was most intense in southern Ohio in the counties surrounding Cincinnati, where four people were killed, hundreds were left homeless, and many of those whose homes were spared were left without power.

Insurance adjusters from Cincinnati Financial and Ohio Casualty Corp. began sorting out claims on Saturday. Hamilton County officials said the Red Cross was tallying the cost of the damages, but no official figures were available. Officials, however, expected it to be in the tens of millions of dollars.

Hamilton county police have roped off the devastated areas and issued identification cards to residents to prevent onlookers from interfering with the clean up.

Ohio Republican Representative Rob Portman said on Sunday the Small Business Administration would provide low interest loans for businesses in the area that had been damaged by the twisters.

(C) Reuters Limited 1999.