Approximately 150 homes in the Prairies at Wright Field housing area were damaged, some significantly, during the storm that passed through the Dayton, Ohio, area late on May 27, 2019. Air Force photo by Wes Farnsworth.
Multiple tornadoes touched down late on Memorial Day near Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, damaging about 150 off-base military homes but leaving key parts of the Dayton installation largely untouched.
“The damage was confined to our privatized housing area adjacent to the base,” service spokeswoman Marie Vanover said May 28. “The main part of the base, including the runway and parking ramps, were not impacted greatly. A thorough [foreign object debris] check was required, but the aerodrome is now open.”
Wright-Patterson is home to Air Force Materiel Command, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and a Reserve airlift wing with C-17s. No aircraft were evacuated and all organizations on base are operating as normal, Vanover said. Personnel were told to report for duty at their regular time May 28.
One person sustained a minor injury, the base said in a press release. Vanover added a handful of homes in the Prairies at Wright Field, a community of single-family homes and townhouses, were significantly damaged. The storm battered numerous vehicles as well.
The Washington Post reported 81-year-old Melvin Dale Hanna of Celina, Ohio, was killed when a tornado threw a truck into his home.
Emergency response crews are still assessing the damage throughout the day. The Air Force and privatized housing contractor Miller-Valentine Group are collaborating to support displaced residents.
“Work crews are on site to help clear the area,” Vanover said. “A team of Wright-Patt fire department personnel, as well as our security forces defenders and chaplains, are on scene going door-to-door to check on the safety of all residents and the condition of the structures. A claims center is being stood up for military personnel who sustained damage from the storm.”
The National Museum of the US Air Force at Wright-Patt announced via Twitter on May 28 the Early Years gallery was temporarily closed for repairs, though museum officials did not immediately answer repairs are related to the storm.
The base said in a midday Facebook post May 28 crews were working to return power to the Prairies as soon as possible. Dayton officials are also advising Prairies residents to boil water for at least one minute before consuming it.
“High winds are expected soon, creating the potential for overhead hazards if winds dislodge hanging debris,” the base said. “Do not go outside unless necessary and use all caution when outdoors.”
The Air Force is already grappling with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael at Tyndall AFB, Fla., last fall and flooding at Offutt AFB, Neb. earlier this year, which will require billions of dollars to return to full operations.