Southern Ohio and Kentucky Brethren begin tornado response

Members of the Church of the Brethren’s Southern Ohio and Kentucky District have begun responding to those affected by the tornadoes that hit west-central Ohio, in and around the city of Dayton, on Monday, May 27.

“Wow! What a crazy night,” said an initial email report from the district office sent on Tuesday, May 28. “We know of at least two Southern Ohio/Kentucky District families who have suffered extensive loss of property in the storms last night. There quite possibly are more. Please keep them and others in your prayers as clean up begins and damage is assessed.”

Since then, district executive minister David Shetler has reported that “to the best of my knowledge, none of our church buildings had damage, but quite a few of our members did.  Several families have had homes completely destroyed and significant numbers have had damage.”

Shetler said the official count from the National Weather Service confirmed 14 tornadoes touched down, most in the EF1 through EF3 range although one was classified as EF4 with winds up to 170 miles per hour (see and ). He expressed concern as well for the large amount of rain that has fallen on the region.

“Along with this latest round of storms, we have had so much rain that many of our farmers cannot get into the fields to get crops planted,” he added. “By now, we are usually close to 100 percent planted and the last count I heard was around 9 percent. Some farmers are stating that they may not even try to plant this year, but utilize crop insurance. With the trade war as well, crop price futures are very low.

“Your prayers are appreciated as our area recovers from these storms and for the livelihood and related industries of our farmers.”

District disaster coordinators Burt and Helen Wolf are at a Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project in Lumberton, N.C., but have worked long-distance with colleague Sam Dewey to help coordinate a response back home. They reported in a district email that “Southern Ohio/Kentucky BDM hit the ground running.”

The Wolfs said that on Thursday, May 30, Dewey led 25 volunteers who worked on 17 different properties in the Northridge community. “People showed up with the right equipment and were able to cut up and remove many trees, remove much debris, and put tarps on the roofs of four houses.”

On Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1, volunteers are continuing the clean-up effort. The assembly point is Happy Corner Church of the Brethren in Clayton, Ohio, at 7 a.m. each morning. Volunteers are to wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, work shoes, eye wear or eye protection, hats, and sunscreen. For questions or to volunteer contact Dewey at 937-684-0510. Information on more opportunities to volunteer will be forthcoming.

Equipment also is needed for the clean-up effort, such as chain saws, wood chippers, four-wheel drive vehicles with chains for pulling debris, etc. The district is compiling a list of equipment in the area that could be made available for the response. Send an email to

Trotwood (Ohio) Church of the Brethren will provide lunch for those in need on Saturday, June 1, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the church parking lot. During this time, Threads of Miami Valley along with Trotwood Little League Baseball also will be passing out clothing and personal items for those in need, reported pastor Jen and Laura Phillips in a district email. “If you would like to donate hot dogs, hot dog buns, snack size bag of chips, cookies or brownies, as well as bottled water that would be greatly appreciated. We will need volunteers to prep the food and serve the meal to our Brothers and Sisters of the community.” Contact

The district disaster coordinators also are in communication with the state disaster response network, Ohio VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). “From our position at the BDM project in Lumberton, N.C., we have been in touch with Ohio VOAD and are keeping them appraised what our volunteers are doing,” the Wolfs wrote. “They in turn will be giving us assistance as they can with various aspects of the clean-up project.” 

The district thanked those who are answering the call to volunteer and help out. “For those who can’t, pray for our safety and for the families affected by these storms.”

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]