Governor Mike DeWine toured areas in and around the Miami Valley Tuesday afternoon devastated by tornadoes on Monday night, including Celina, where there was one death caused by at least an EF-3 tornado.
81-year-old Melvin Hannah was killed when a car came through his house.
In addition to Hannah’s death, there were multiple injuries and at least forty houses were destroyed in city limits, as well as 15 houses in Mercer County.
One family on Hellwarth Rd. said they were watching the tornado warning on TV Monday night, and were waiting to see where the storm was headed first.
They said they eventually decided to head to the basement and made it just in time.
“We were only down there about seven minutes when we heard a roar and a big bang, and then a door slam,” said Sue Stachler. “My husband said we just lost everything.”
Stachler said friends, family, and coworkers showed up Tuesday morning without even asking.
It was the same story next door, where Cole Robbins lives.
He said he and his family made it to their basement just moments before the tornado hit, and said it was a terrifying ordeal.
“It sounded like someone was shooting guns at our windows,” said Robbins. “All the windows were shattered, everything was flying around my house.”
And that was seen across Celina, many times, strangers showing up to lend a helping hand.
During his tour, Governor Mike DeWine said that speaks to the community and its heart.
“Mercer County is a county of families, it’s a county of people helping people,” said DeWine.
DeWine also said he spoke to a few families who will spend the next few days picking up the pieces.
He detailed one family who did not have a basement but told him everyone got in the bathtub and the dad laid with a mattress on everyone, saving their lives.
“It’s devastating to see it from the air, and it’s devastating to go out and see the devastation to homes and talk to people who have lost everything,” said DeWine. “You see what a tornado can do.”
DeWine also said he had been in contact with Vice President Mike Pence who promised federal aid, and DeWine said the state is already coordinating to see what the needs are.
“As people start putting their lives back together, we’re going to see what federal assistance might be available,” said DeWine. “I talked to Rob Portman earlier, everyone is on the same team. We’re going to do everything that we absolutely can.”
But until then, neighbors, family, friends, and strangers are continuing to show up in masses, lending a helping hand to those who were less fortunate.
“When you find little bits and pieces, you celebrate those little things,” said Stachler.
The EMA director of Van Wert told 2NEWS he saw a path of just pure damage about a quarter mile wide.
He said many families walking around asked why there were not more injuries or deaths because the level of damage is just incredible.
He says it’s because most people heeded the warning and went into basements or at least proper shelter, so he advised to use this as a warning and show how important proper safe places are.