Lt. Gov. Husted surveys Dayton Phoenix Group tornado damage

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted spent Friday morning surveying tornado damages areas in Dayton. One of these stops was a tour of the Dayton Phoenix Group facility. Husted said the leadership and resiliency of staff there will help them rise from the ashes.

Cleanup is still ongoing at the facility. The company’s own staff has taken up the responsibility of cleaning up their work space.

13 workers were inside the plant the night a tornado ripped through. While employees were trapped inside for some time, no one was injured. Tim Gilbert, maintenance supervisor at the facility, said the timing of the tornado had a lot to do with that.

“During the day, we would’ve had 250 to 300 people in the building. I’m sure it would’ve been a different outcome,” Gilbert said. 

Gilbert is grateful to have workers helping with restoration. 

“I’ve been in the facility for 34 years. It’s kind of like my second home. The people here are my family,” he said.

Gilbert walked alongside Lieutenant Governor Husted on a tour of the facility.

“It’s stunning the damage that you see at this facility,” Husted said, but adds that the positive attitude from workers was inspiring. 

“There are powerful people in here who just will not quit. They are going to help bring this business back to life right here in north Dayton,” Husted said.

Manufacturing is on hold for the time being. The facility builds a variety of parts for locomotives. 

For now, Dayton Phoenix will operate out of a former GM plant in Vandalia. They are asking clients for a list of top needs and are working on completing orders for those clients. Gilbert say they’ll be back when the facility is in working condition.

Husted hopes other companies hurt by the tornado will do the same. It will be Dayton Phoenix’s momentum and drive that he says are key in the recovery process. 

“It will rise again and I think that’s a good symbol for whats going to happen for all of Dayton,” Husted said.

Husted said he planned taking  what he learned here in Dayton on Friday back to the Governor. Dayton Phoenix Group said they planned on holding a grand re-opening ceremony in one year.

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