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One Dead in Ohio Storm

September 21, 2000

XENIA, Ohio (AP) _ A storm packing winds up to 70 mph and heavy rain killed one person and injured dozens of others Wednesday night in this southwest Ohio city known for surviving one of the country’s deadliest tornadoes 26 years ago.

The storm hit about 7:30 p.m., damaging homes and commercial buildings, blowing over cars and downing trees and utility lines. The roof was blown off at least one church in this city about 20 miles southeast of Dayton.

At least 100 people were injured. One was in critial condition and two others were listed as serious, hospital officials said. The other injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

Authorities and officials with the National Weather Service said they had no verification of a tornado touchdown.

``We are going home by home to see if everybody is OK,″ Mayor John Saraga said late Wednesday. ``Ninety percent of our city is in good shape.″

Most of a grocery store collapsed, trapping seven people, and about half the city of 23,000 was without electricity at one point, Saraga said.

One person was killed when a tree crushed a car near the Greene County fairgrounds, Sheriff Jerry Erwin said.

``There really was no warning,″ said Travis Waddle, an employee of a Wal-Mart store. ``I saw the tiles come down and people running and everybody screaming.″

Outside, he said, cars were overturned and windows were shattered. Some people suffered cuts and bruises, but he said he saw no major injuries inside the store.

Ruby Godfrey of the Dayton Avenue Baptist Church said he heard hail hitting the roof. ``We’re hitting the floor, getting under pews. You heard the roar. You saw the roof flying off and then it was gone.″

Dick Kimmins of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency said Gov. Bob Taft issued an emergency declaration for Xenia about 10:30 p.m.

Erwin said Wednesday that the damage from the latest storm was not nearly as bad as the tornado that swept through Xenia and southwest Ohio on April 3, 1974, killing 33 people.

Elsewhere in southwest Ohio on Wednesday night, heavy rains damaged roofs and downed trees and power lines.

Allen Randall, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, said radar indicated some straight-line winds of 60 mph to 70 mph.

Storm damage also was reported north of Columbus in central Ohio where 15 homes were damaged.

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