WILMINGTON — When disaster struck the Dayton area, their neighbors in Clinton County went above and beyond to help.
It’s been less than two weeks since Dayton was among the cities hit by the outbreak of tornadoes on May 27. But the helpful nature of Clinton County residents hasn’t stopped, from collecting items for victims or helping with the cleanup.
Leah Lorenz, who works at Midnight Auto on North Nelson Avenue, grew up in Northridge, a neighborhood that got hit especially hard by the storm.
“All down Dixie (Drive) … there was a neighborhood I hung out in all the time, we drove through there and houses are just torn apart,” said Lorenz.
The very next day, Lorenz and Midnight Auto owner Jason Stroop put out a list of donation items they were collecting to help — water, food, tarps, toiletries, etc.
“We got like 200 cases of water; one guy actually brought in two trailer loads (of water),” said Stroop. “We took a half-ton of ice up and just whatever else people brought that was on the list.”
On another trip, they received coolers full of ice, with baloney, bread and cheese from MacD’s Pub.
“It was basically a care package,” said Stroop.
Lorenz credits their successful donation drive to the help they received from the community.
“We couldn’t have done this without the help of everybody,” she said. “(MacD’s) Pub helped out … customers helped out … I can’t even think of everyone who helped. People we didn’t even know were coming here and putting stuff in the U-Haul.”
In their first week of collecting items, it took four trips to deliver all the items. Recently they’ve been asking for items to help with the cleanup — brooms, buckets and tarps. Collecting has slowed down over the past week.
“Last week we basically shut the shop down to do it,” said Stroop.
Both were amazed at the donations received, especially given other recent local events, mainly the fundraising and help for the Davis family members who were injured in a two-vehicle accident.
“I didn’t want to take away from that,” said Lorenz. “But the fact that people are able to help with Dayton and (the Davis family), that was helpful.”
Other local businesses taking in donations to help included For the Love of Ink on South South Street, which teamed up with Faith Family Church to collect items.
Smyth Automotive on Rombach Avenue is collecting items at their store including toiletries and baby items.
And there are the smaller donations made by individuals in the county, including Kaity Stuckert.
“It was a very informal collection with just a handful of people pitching in,” said Stuckert, who helped collect over $200 worth of water, diapers, cleaning supplies and toiletries.
Jeff Murphy has been involved with assisting on-the-ground volunteer efforts with the Red Cross and is looking for volunteers; you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another local who responded almost immediately was Kelly Engle-Thompson and the Tri-State Response Team for Disaster Relief.
“Monday night when the tornado hit, I alerted our team as soon as I saw it coming. I felt like it was going to be a big storm. I told the guys, ‘Be ready to go tomorrow’,” said Engle-Thompson.
She along with the other members had responded to help in other incidents like the Gatlinburg, Tennessee fire.
The group had gathered about a hundred of their go-bags (bags to help people in the first 12 hours after a disaster), started collecting water, and got help through the Greenfield Police Department to see where help was needed.
The team took three vehicles of supplies, distributed about 150 to 200 go-bags in Northridge, and when they saw people on street corners fixing food, gave them some water.
“We starting hitting the neighborhood going door-to-door on Ontario Avenue … and gave out bottles of water,” said Engle-Thompson. “We knew the area, my husband grew up there. So, we had contacts in the area to help find out info.”
Working with resource officers to find out what was needed, they helped out at an old fire station that served as a base of operations. Engle-Thompson and the team did about five to six runs of supply runs to places like Northridge, Brooksville and West Milton. During the debris clean-up, the team stayed and helped, especially with the elderly residents.
“Now they’re in the cleanup stage and they need industrial strength trash bags, heavy-duty boxes, scoop shovels, and work gloves,” said Engle-Thompson.
Tri-State Emergency Response Team started because Engle-Thompson felt there was a need for an organization to help people in their local community. Each team member is certified, including FEMA training.
“We’re not a rogue team with no training,” said Engle-Thompson. “Basically when I started it I had a plan and we do it the right way; we don’t get in the way, we go through the proper channels to help.”
If anyone wants to volunteer with the group or find out how to help through the team, contact Engle-Thompson at email@example.com or call her at 937-725-4862.