Storm churns up community support

Pictured is Amelia Maintenance Department’s Brian Deel, from March 4-5, 2017, helping in the aftermath of a storm that ravaged Pierce Township and Amelia.

By Megan Alley
Sun staff

The first part of the old adage that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb proved true as storms and a tornado ripped through the county on March 1, but despite the destruction left in the storm’s wake, the community and neighbor-to-neighbor support that hailed down afterward has proved to be the most notable weather aftereffect.

Pictured is Amelia Maintenance Department’s Brian Deel, from March 4-5, 2017, helping in the aftermath of a storm that ravaged Pierce Township and Amelia.

“There were a lot of trees down, and one house with its roof off of it; a lot of trees just everywhere and power lines down,” John Koehler, Pierce Township service department director, who was one of the first service personnel members on the scene after the storm, said. “It was just bad. I mean, I don’t even know the words to express it.”

He added that the community’s outpouring of support to those affected by the storm has been notable.

“We’ve had a lot of people offer to help,” Koehler said.

From March 4-5, township and village of Amelia residents were invited to drop off household items, expired food and furniture – things damaged by the storm – to a storm cleanup event, located at 3685 Lewis Road.

“It’s been a very good response. People keep thanking us for doing this to help them out, because a lot of them said they didn’t know what they were going to do with all their stuff,” Koehler said.

Additionally, the Clermont County Emergency Management Agency coordinated a partnership between the township, village and the Civil Air Patrol – 279th Composite Squadron. Patrol members visited local properties that were affected by the storm and helped clear-out debris.

“I’m sure in this instance, we could go on people’s private property, but we don’t have enough manpower to help these people clean this up without them,” Koehler said.

Terri and Shane Ayers, 10-year residents of Pierce Township, suffered flooding in their basement as a result of the storm, and they were thankful for the drop-off service.

“We had some tree damage, but not that much. Most of our damage was from the sump pump and the backup going out and our basement flooding,” Terri Ayers said. “We were out of power for two and a half days.”

She added, “It sucks, but the day it happened, the police were down our street, the county was down our street, the fire was down our street. Everybody just asking if we were OK and if we needed anything. Everyone was just really super fantastic.”

Despite having lost most everything in her basement, Terri Ayers was thankful that no one was killed or hurt.

“I’m here, my three dogs are here, we’re all OK,” she said.

Tony Everhart, who recently moved in with his mother-in-law in Amelia, also dropped off debris during the storm cleanup event.

“She had five inches of water in her basement,” Everhart said. “And then, her sister, who lives right through the woods – they have a bunch of property on Cole Road – she had six inches of water in her basement, so I’ve been running a generator for two days just to pump the water out.”

He added, “I’ve just been trying to help them carry everything out.”

Everhart went on to describe his experiences the morning of the storm.

“I got those warnings on my phone, but I wake up at 5:30 [a.m.] to go to work, so I was kind of halfway asleep. Then all of a sudden, I heard the tornado siren go on and I told my fiancé to turn the TV on to check it out. Then, about 10 minutes after we had the TV on, the power cut out and – I’ve never been that close to a tornado – I heard this whistling sound, and it was a real eerie sound that I’ve never heard before.”

Everhart estimated that they were about five city blocks from where the tornado touched down.

“Trees dropped around the house, but luckily the house wasn’t damaged,” he said. “It’s been an ongoing thing.”

Everhart and his family are thankful for the support handed down by the community.

“This world’s been a crazy place, and it’s really cool when stuff like this happens that the community comes together. It makes you feel like there’s still people out there who do care,” he said.