XENIA, Ohio (WDTN) — As Hurricane Ian travels up the coastline, Xenia’s Mayor reflects on how the Miami Valley responded to natural disasters in the past.
Xenia’s Mayor Sarah Mays wasn’t alive during the 1974 F5 tornado but she says her family has told stories for decades. They remember the immediate destruction, but most of all, the damage a natural disaster leaves for years to come.
“It really got me thinking about when you rebuild from devastation, it’s long term,” said Mayor Mays.
Mayor Mays says Hurricane Ian’s destruction hits a little too close to home for her. She still sees the damage that the 1974 F5 tornado left in Xenia.
“I’m a product of the legacy of that tornado,” said Mayor Mays. “There’s a family in our church who lost their son and then there was another family that lost their home, so even though I wasn’t alive yet in the 74’ tornado, I still saw the effect it had on the people I grew up around.
As Hurricane Ian continues to sweep Florida and move into the Carolina’s, Mays anticipates many towns initial strategy would be to clear the way for first responders.
“You have to have your first responders have a way to go help and get people out and to safety, those are your first priorities, also if there are lines down,” said Mays.
The mayor hopes many neighboring states will come to Florida’s aid. When the 2019 Memorial Day Tornados hit the Beavercreek, Celina and Trotwood area, Xenia didn’t think twice about being their first responder.
“It’s the immediate boots on the ground from your neighbors and community,” said Mayor Mays. “Xenia wasn’t so much affected as Beavercreek and others during the Memorial Day tornadoes, out of mutual aid we went to them, and that’s your first line of defense right there is your neighbor.”