Xenia tornado a vivid memory 41 years later

The tornado that touched down in Xenia on April 3, 1074. (Photo/National Weather Service)
The tornado that touched down in Xenia on April 3, 1074. (Photo/National Weather Service)

XENIA, Ohio (WDTN) – It only took five minutes.  The damage was widespread and deadly.

Friday, April 3, 2015 marks the 41st anniversary of the Xenia tornado.

The F-5 tornado swept 300 mile per hour winds through the Greene County city, killing 32 people and injuring more than 1,100 more.  It caused $100-million in damage.

Images of homes flattened, trees stripped down to nothing and stunned victims are as fresh today as they were in 1974. Signs of hope promising to rebuild were erected by citizens, scrawled out in spray paint.

This still frame from WDTN's coverage of the Xenia tornado shows the extreme devastation that hit the community.
This still frame from WDTN’s coverage of the Xenia tornado shows the extreme devastation that hit the community.

“It even took the sheets off of my basement line. The windows went out in the basement of course. My garage left and you couldn’t even see where it ever went to. The whole garage. Didn’t even leave a board,” a resident told WDTN’s news crew just after the storm.

The twister struck just after 4:30 p.m. The Arrowhead neighborhood was hit particularly hard. There were students inside their school when the roof was simply ripped away.

“It was devastating in more ways than one because we had to move to Beavercreek to live with my aunt and finish out the school year there. It was just weird,” said Catherine Wilson, ’74 tornado survivor.

Technology has changed drastically since then. No warnings were issued on that day in 1974, but today the National Weather Service can issue a warning about a storm 13 minutes ahead it on average.

Social media and text alerts also sound the alarm to residents.

The Greene County Historical Society keeps mementoes of that fateful day, so that no one will forget. A memorial now stands at the corner of North Detroit Street and East Market Street to remember those we lost.

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