Ohio tornado strikes farms in Holmes County, ruins buildings

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Editor’s Note: Our storm coverage continues. Click here to read about the damage at OARDC in Wooster.

FARMERSTOWN, Ohio — Thursday evening, Sept. 16, Allen Miller was doing what he does every evening — milking the family’s cows under their bank barn.

But ordinary turned unordinary in an instant, when one of his sons noticed a large tornado about to pass over their farm along state Route 557.

“One of the boys come in the back and hollered ‘there’s a tornado coming. We got to go.’”

And they went — Allen and his children, into the milkhouse — to seek shelter from a storm that had the potential to take lives.

“I grabbed my little 10-year-old boy and I ran to the milkhouse. I said ‘everybody behind the milk tank.’”

That’s where they would stay until it was over, huddled together between the milk tank and the milk house wall.

All safe

No one at the farm was injured, nor any animals. But part of the barn roof was blown off, the doors were damaged and a house across the street sustained damage to its roof.

A short distance away, down the rugged country road of Township Road 183, Mose Miller and more than 100 friends and neighbors helped clean the rubble from a half-dozen destroyed buildings.

The upstairs loft of his dairy barn, the horse barn, farm shop and machinery shed were among those counted as a loss. Large gaping holes were left in the roof of the barn, where wind had ripped the metal completely off.

Some livestock were injured, with a couple losses. Miller and his family were in Kentucky at the time of the storm, a factor that likely played into their own safety.

Short of words

Mose Miller had one word for the damage: “Unreal.”

But he commended his neighbors, who worked diligently the day after the storm, bringing in heavy construction equipment and establishing burn piles for debris.

Family friend Don Ryburn, of Washington, Pa., said he was in Holmes County delivering horses the night of the storm. He returned home, but decided to come back to help, along with his wife and son.

“They’re good people and we’ve known them for a long time,” he said.

One of the neighbors helping said he “thought with the many hills in the region, they’d be safe. But as another neighbor said, the tornado “bounced” off of the hills, causing destruction along the way.

The buildings were still being assessed late in the day Sept. 17, but it was likely some would still need to be disassembled and rebuilt, because of split beams, and damaged metal.

Mose Miller was still able to milk his cows, because the lower level of the barn was mostly undamaged, except for some structural shifting.

Tornadoes confirmed

On Sept. 17, the National Weather Service confirmed the storm in Holmes County indeed was the result of a tornado.

It touched down about 2 miles southwest of Farmerstown in Clark Township and moved east to near State route 557, where it lifted.

The tornado left a three-mile path, damaging farm buildings and a few homes. Numerous trees also were reported down.

About a half-hour earlier, around 5:30 p.m., a tornado touched down in Wooster, Ohio, causing severe damage to Ohio State University’s Agricultural Research and Development Center. One minor injury was reported, and the individual declined to be treated.

About the Author

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties. More Stories by Chris Kick

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