Ohio ARES Active in Wake of Tornadoes that Badly Damaged Hara Arena

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Reprinted from the ARRL website 05/28/2019

Hara Arena, in Trotwood, Ohio, which served as the home for Dayton Hamvention® for more than six decades, was among the structures damaged when tornadoes swept through the Dayton area on Memorial Day. According to a report from WHIO TV, Hara Arena suffered extensive damage. Drone video showed that the roof and side of the structure had been blown off in several places. Hamvention relocated to the Greene County Fairgrounds and Exhibition Center in 2017, after Hara Arena shut down the previous year.

The Hara Arena damage apparently resulted from what CBS News called “a large and dangerous tornado” that struck Trotwood. Ohio Section Emergency Coordinator Stan Broadway, N8BHL, said ARES counties and districts activated last evening after nearly 40 tornado warnings were issued across the state.

“Our state EOC Auxcomm station has been on the air since early last evening,” Broadway told ARRL. “We are still active, and it look like ARES will be active for several days during the recovery. The situation is rapidly changing.” As of Tuesday morning, state and local emergency management agencies are handling damage issues. “Because of lack of power, the entire Montgomery County (Dayton area) water system faces depressurization,” Broadway said. “Dayton Children’s Hospital is on complete generator power.”

Ohio ARES remains active on HF (SSB and digital modes), as well as on DMR and VHF repeaters.

“This appears to be a long-term activation while different areas begin the recovery process,” Broadway said. “Counties and districts involved are urged to maintain liaison with the state through one of these nets.”

The severe weather caused widespread damage in and around Dayton and elsewhere in the Miami Valley. The National Weather Service (NWS) has said it will take several days to survey the damage. The tornadoes struck after dark, and damage assessment is still under way. Multiple injuries and one fatality have been reported.

It appears that at least two tornadoes were responsible for most of the devastation, which has been termed “catastrophic.” Some residents were trapped under debris. Residents of the City of Dayton are being advised to conserve water and to boil it before consuming. Electrical power is out in several areas, and water pumping stations are relying on emergency generators. The NWS office in Wilmington, Ohio, estimated that at one point, storms and tornadoes left some 5 million people without electrical power.

Snow plows were being repurposed to remove debris from Interstate Route 75, and the American Red Cross has set up shelters to accommodate displaced residents.