June 9 – A tornado caused major damage to a Meijer distribution center and several other sites early Wednesday evening in Miami County.
Further damage was reported in Darke and Clark counties as the storm system moved across western Ohio between 5 and 7 p.m. The Wilmington National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado touched down between about 5:55 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. near West Milton and Tipp. City, and that a storm survey conducted Thursday would provide additional details.
At the Meijer plant, off County Road 25A south in Tipp City, the roof and back wall of the northeast corner of the building collapsed.
“I saw a funnel cloud in the area,” Tipp City Police Sgt. Corey Rismiller. “I saw debris falling from Meijer’s roof.”
The damage locations appeared to be “pretty much industrial facilities,” with Meijer bearing the brunt, said Joel Smith, director of the Miami County Emergency Management Agency.
Fifty or more people were working in the Meijer Distribution building when the storm hit, but no injuries were reported.
“Meijer heeded the tornado warnings and got people to their emergency location,” Smith said. “They were in their safe place so no one was hurt.”
The tornado struck the distribution center before moving east across I-75 and into the industrial park area. Structural and roof damage was initially reported to RepaCorp, Hi Tech Industrial Services and S&K Tool buildings, Smith said.
Crews worked to cover the front of SK Mold & Tool with a large tarp after nearly the entire front of the building was swept away by the storm.
North Third Street, from North Drive past Industrial Park Court, will remain closed at least overnight while crews work to remove debris from the road, according to Tipp City Police.
The Tipp City Fire Department, with help from surrounding agencies, was working on the structures before turning them over to the owners for cleaning and repairs.
Tim Eggleston, City Manager of Tipp City, was driving the community later Wednesday evening to check the damage.
The County Road 25A and Tipp Cowlesville Road traffic light was working again later that evening, while others, including those at the nearby Interstate 75 interchange, were not.
Piqua and Troy police responded to help with traffic control and Vandalia fire crews came to help at the Meijer property, Eggleston said.
Eggleston said hopes are for the city’s electrical department to resolve the city’s power outages later Wednesday night. Only one utility pole in the city was snapped by the tornado, along the Kessler-Cowlesville highway, he said.
AES, which also supplies power to the area, had vehicles in town, Eggleston said.
Eggleston said there was residential roof damage and downed trees, but no catastrophic damage to residential structures was reported as of 8:30 p.m.
“It could have been a lot worse,” Eggleston said of the damage. “We’re grateful it wasn’t worse.”
From the Meijer factory
“I just thought it was a big storm…heavy rain and stuff,” said Meijer employee Cheryln Spealman of Dayton.
During the storm, she said lights went on and off several times in the huge facility.
“After that we heard a big bang and then a pile of debris started blowing,” Spealman said.
It wasn’t until the workers came out that they noticed that part of the building had collapsed.
Spealman said she was not working in the area that sustained the extensive damage, but said she was grateful that it appears no one was injured.
Employees have been sent home for the remainder of their shift, and Spealman said she doesn’t know if workers will be able to return to work Thursday.
Houses behind the Meijer warehouse were also damaged. Police closed a section of Kessler-Cowlesville Road between South County Road 25A and Peters Road just after 6 p.m., allowing only local traffic and first responders. Damage to trees, power lines and some houses was visible in this area.
“It’s all in the northern part of town, that’s where all the damage is,” Rismiller said.
As of mid-evening, there were no reports of injuries associated with the storms, according to the Miami County Sheriff’s Office.
City of Tipp officials were asking people to stay off the roads in damaged areas, including County Road 25A and the Kessler-Cowlesville Road near the Meijer Distribution Center.
In a Facebook post, the city also asked people to check on neighbors and stay safe.
Pictures of the suite
The damage inspired flashbacks to some of the lasting images of the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes.
— The tops of the trees were cut in several places and some of the remaining trees appeared to be healed.
— Large chunks of steel from a nearby company were strewn everywhere. One coin was tightly wrapped around a tree trunk.
— Pieces of insulation also littered the area, some hanging from tree branches and some stuck in fences. Near an outdoor seating area at Repacorp Inc., white ropes of insulation were stretched over bushes and a damaged awning, making the scene look like it had been decorated for Halloween.
The potential tornado was first reported shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday in Darke County near the Ohio-Indiana line. The Clark County damage occurred around 7 p.m., nearly two hours and more than 60 miles from where the storm was originally reported.