Weathering the Storm
A City of Montgomery, Ohio Podcast
I grew up on Fallsington Court and was 12 when the tornado came through. I remember waking around 4 AM to a very strong thunderstorm. As I could not sleep during thunderstorms, I went to the basement and turned on the weather. Not long after, my sister came down as well. There was talk of a tornadic storm cell moving through Indiana, and then Addyston. The forecast I saw called for it to move across the southern part of the county. I think the power went out around 510 or so. Based on that information, I didn’t say anything to my parents.
I remember it being pitch black and then after a few minutes, hearing the tornado. It sounds like all the cliches people describe it as: a freight train, a jet flying by low. It was a very loud, constant sound that lasted maybe 45 seconds to a minute. I assumed the windows had to be breaking upstairs, it was so loud. My sister and I heard none of this, but my dad was in the shower at the time, completely unaware of what was happening. My mom made it to the bottom of the stairs on the first floor and yelled up to him that there was a tornado. None of us heard her. Mom and Dad came downstairs and we all huddled down there for a while until daybreak.
We knew the house was basically fine and intact. Going outside we found debris everywhere. Other than some lost trees, the majority of damage we got came from a warehouse roof across 71 that had rocks on to top of it. The tornado picked up all those rocks and blasted our neighborhood with them. The chimney looked as though a machine gun had strafed it. All the front window screens were busted, the back windshield of the car in the driveway was blown out. One went through the garage door, and we found rocks embedded in the yard for a couple of years afterwards. One of the houses at the top of our street had the roof torn off and was subsequently condemned and rebuilt. A couple of the townhomes also suffered significant structure damage. Overall though, the neighborhood escaped the catastrophic damage Lake Water and Valleystream experienced.
We would learn that 71 and the sound barrier separating our street from the highway spared us that level of damage. After going through the industrial park on Millington and crossing 71, the embankment and sound barrier cut the tornado off from the ground as it passed over Fallsington. The tornado touched down again once it hit the Johnson Nature Preserve and proceeded to Lake Water and Valleystream. We were very fortunate to be spared a direct hit from the storm. I could see where the tornado came through from my bedroom window from the hole in the treeline along the sound barrier and can still see the scar it left on that treeline as I drive past on 71 today.
I had an interest in weather as a kid, so I had some grasp of the mechanics of what happened, why, etc. I remember feeling not so much fear of it happening again, but fear of what might have been. Seeing a neighborhood I knew well flattened and thinking about how that was nearly our neighborhood’s fate as well was something that stuck with me in the weeks and months following the storm. I remember going with my Mom to a Red Cross event in Blue Ash a month afterwards and Tim Hedrick from Channel 12 being there to talk about the meteorological aspects of what happened. For some reason, going to that brought out whatever trepidation I had remaining from the storm out of me, as I felt a relief leaving it. I recall Tim doing an excellent job explaining the mechanics of it all and generally being very sympathetic to what we experienced, which must have helped me a lot.
Thank you, Johnathan, for sharing your story.
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