No reports of injuries or damage were made in Fayette County following the severe storms and tornadoes in the area that began Monday night and lasted through early Tuesday morning.
A tornado watch was announced Monday night followed by warnings and sirens in Fayette County, although no tornadoes touched down, according to authorities. Several locals recorded videos and took pictures of the sky as lightning lit up the storm clouds.
Melissa Havens, director of the Fayette County Emergency Management Agency, explained that while photos of the storms can be great afterwards, it is not suggested to be outside—including outside on porches—during these storms.
According to Havens, the storm went through northwestern Fayette County although nothing has been confirmed yet. She said the National Weather Service is most likely overwhelmed and explained, “We are at the bottom of the list, because there was so much damage out to the west of us.”
According to the Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) outage map, there were only a handful of customers without power in Fayette County, but over 70,000 of its customers have been impacted elsewhere due to the catastrophic damage from tornadoes.
It is reported by the Associated Press that there were 53 tornadoes on Monday that forecasters said could have touched down across eight states. There were large amounts of damage reported just outside of Dayton and one individual killed in Celina.
There are safe restoration efforts currently underway with 360 mutual aid crew members assisting. It is believed it will be a multi-day restoration project.
When asked about locals in Fayette County who may not heed the warnings by sleeping through them or continuing normal activities without taking shelter, Havens said, “It is so easy to become complacent.”
She explained that in Fayette County, we see a lot of weather in which the main damage comes from wind—locals get used to it. However, “We need the community to be responsible and heed the warnings—that’s why we issue them.”
Havens said it is important to be vigilant and to pay attention. She suggested the use of a weather radio to keep up-to-date. Another way to be informed is to watch local news channels—for instance, watching Dayton or Columbus news channels Monday night would have let people see the conditions the storm was causing.
Another way to stay safe and be prepared is to have a safe spot planned out in your home if needed—especially if your home has no basement. Fayette County does not have a public shelter.
If your home does not have a basement or storm cellar, several sources suggest choosing an interior room on the lowest level that does not have windows.
When taking shelter, be mindful of heavy objects located on the floors above you—if heavy objects were to fall through the floor, you do not want to be located under them. Use sturdy furniture, blankets or mattresses to provide a layer of protection between yourself and debris.
Mobile homes, even ones that are tied down, are not considered safe. Several sources suggest leaving the mobile home for a nearby sturdy/ permanent structure or laying in a ditch.
Being in a vehicle during a tornado poses different options—going under a bridge is not one of the suggested options as it does not provide protection from flying debris, and blocks the roadway. If possible, take shelter in a nearby sturdy/ permanent structure. If there is an area lower than the roadway, such as a ditch, park the vehicle out of the roadway, exit and go to the lower area while keeping your head covered.
If caught in extreme winds or flying debris while in a vehicle with no appropriate shelter, park the car as safely as possible, keep seat belts on, lower heads below the windows and use something for a cushion over the head—such as hands, coats or blankets.
A tornado watch means the weather is favorable for a tornado to occur. A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted or picked up by radar.
Even though it is easy to get caught up in other activities while waiting for the storm to pass, Havens explained it is important to remain aware of the situation.
Once the warning has been issued, Havens said, “that’s when you need to perk up and pay attention. You need to take cover.”
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.