If you wanted to know what it’s like growing up in a small town in Ohio, you’d ask the kids of Wood Street.
Lined with about a dozen modest ranch homes in Goshen Township, it sits just around the corner from a UDF and a Skyline. You can walk up the street to the town’s main thoroughfare or head the other way where Wood Street ends in a dirt and gravel road.
On a normal summer day, you’d be close enough to the high school to hear the marching band practicing, but on Thursday it was just chainsaws and construction equipment.
It was familiar. Now he is almost unrecognizable.
Wood Street was one of the hardest hit areas in Goshen Township when an EF2 tornado ripped through the area Wednesday afternoon.
The twister arrived quickly. Less than a minute after the resounding alert transmitted by residents’ phones, windows were blown out and roofs were torn off. The same was true for the gas meters at the township fire station. Fortunately, no one died and only one person was injured by the debris.
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Ron Healy, 50, lives on Plum Street a short walk from Wood Street. He said he noticed the rain was starting to fall on Wednesday, but didn’t hear any sirens. It was the telephone alert that sent him to his basement to take shelter with his family. He watched the trees and debris fly as the storm raged outside.
When he emerged from his basement and went out to inspect the damage, his house was largely unharmed, Healy said, although the rest of his neighborhood was not so lucky.
“We just noticed that it was all just devastation, basically,” Healy said.
Healy said his first instinct was to check on his elderly uncle who lives down the street next door.
He said his uncle’s house suffered roof damage, blown windows and leaks in the house. Fortunately, the uncle came through the storm unscathed.
Duane Clemons was another lucky one. Her home on Goshen Road was narrowly missed as mature trees in her front yard collapsed in the high winds.
Although he retired from Madeira city government years ago, he was still wearing his Madeira high-visibility work t-shirt on Thursday.
A memory of his old job stuck in his mind. And it wasn’t too different from what he’s experiencing now: he helped the town clean up wreckage after a tornado hit that town in 1999.
Did he think this would ever happen to Goshen? He said he wished that wasn’t the case, but he knew it was a possibility.
“I never wanted to be anywhere near that kind of devastation again,” he said.
Opposite, on Wood Street, Brittany Doan was watching her garden. There was very little grass to be seen. Power lines, brush and broken glass have taken its place.
Doan shielded her eyes from the sun as she stared at her house, the windows shattered, the roof blown, her son’s room destroyed. She spent the night with her in-laws with her husband and two children, and stayed in a hotel all weekend.
“That’s the good thing about this community – everyone comes together,” she said.
And the neighbors might need each other. On Wood Street, the power is still off. Goshen residents were urged to prepare to hold out for several more days. Township Administrator Steve Pegram said more than 100 utility poles were downed by the tornado.
About half of Wood Street residents left their homes boarded up, the other half were there to pick up the rubble on Thursday. The once bike-friendly street was filled with utility workers, construction crews and other workers.
Phyllis Morgan said the building her family built in the 1980s, which previously housed a real estate business, is almost completely flattened.
She said she was 10 minutes from her home without power and was only notified when called by friends. It was his father who built the building. She owns it now.
Morgan said the building had just been leased to another company.
“It’s just total,” Morgan said. Her reading glasses shook in her hand as she stared at the wreckage.
“There’s not even anything I can pick up and take home,” she said. “My livelihood is in there.
“There is absolutely nothing left,” she said. “I can’t believe it. It’s hard to bear.”
Cameron Knight contributed to this story.