Beavercreek man, city manager remember Memorial Day tornadoes, talk rebuild 4 years later

Saturday marks four years since the Memorial Day tornado outbreak in the Miami Valley and News Center 7′s John Bedell returned to a Beavercreek neighbor that was one of the hardest hit by the storms.

While about 95 percent of the 139 residential properties destroyed by the storm within the city have been replaced or repaired, a handful of empty lots in the Gardenview neighborhood, off of Grange Hall Road, are physical signs left over from the tornado.

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News Center 7′s John Bedell spoke with Jim Lynch, a Gardenview resident, in 2019 after his home was totaled by the storm. Four years later, Bedell caught up with Lynch as he recalled that night.

“We put bicycle helmets on and heavy overcoats and went into the hall bathroom and proceeded to watch the roof come off the house in its entirety,” Lynch said.

He remembers the nails popping off the wood sounding “like a popcorn machine.”

Lynch and his wife, like so many of their neighbors, have rebuilt and, in many ways, it’s hard to tell a storm even came through their neighborhood.

“It is until you’re off of Grange Hall and you look at the tree scape and you see trees that are topped off still standing,” Pete Landrum, Beavercreek City Manager, said. “So the landscape is forever changed.”

The damage in Beavercreek hit a mix of homes and businesses. Landrum told News Center 7 that all but one business that was hit by the storm has reopened. For the most part, the people in Beavercreek have rebuilt.

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“There’s been some, you know, trials and tribulations going through the process,” Lynch said, but noted that his family is “not doing all bad.”

Aside from the obvious scars in the landscape, there are still invisible, emotional wounds in this part of Greene County.

“Things are kind of getting back to normal. What’s not back to normal will be forever,” Landrum said. “Those that went through the tornado or the traumatic stress that they went through...they’re still bothered by what they lived through.”

There’s also gratitude for how things have turned out in Beavercreek after one of the Miami Valley’s most difficult chapters.

“I question every day, ‘How on earth did nobody get killed?’ And because it was a war zone, it looked very bad. And there’s just somebody was looking out for many people that night.”