89-year-old survives Ohio tornado in upstairs bedroom, rest of house destroyed

TROTWOOD, Ohio (WISH) — A tornado with winds up to 140 mph touched down Monday night in Trotwood, a city of approximately 25,000 residents near Dayton, prompting local officials to declare a state of emergency.

The mayor described the damage as “catastrophic.”

Residents said some neighborhoods in northeastern Trotwood were “basically bulldozed.”

More than a dozen houses on Kentfield Drive sustained extensive damage. Roofs were blown off, walls collapsed, windows shattered and doors — ripped off their hinges — lay in crumpled heaps. 

Splintered wood beams stretched out of gaping holes in houses like broken bones protruding from open wounds. Storm debris littered the once-manicured lawns and downed trees lined the roadway.

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Kentfield Drive residents were “shocked and grateful” no tornado-related deaths were reported in the neighborhood, they told News 8.

Shirley Masters, 89, said she could have died if she had left the unexpected safe-haven of her upstairs bedroom.

“I think I should go out and buy a lucky lottery ticket,” she said Tuesday, surveying the obliterated basement and first floor of her Kentfield Drive home.

The corner of the second floor where Masters’ bedroom is located sustained relatively minor damage from the storm.

“It’s a miracle,” her grandson Michael Furl said. “We’re just grateful she’s okay.”

Masters’ family was the second to settle down on Kentfield Drive nearly 50 years ago, she told News 8. She had lived alone in the 4700 block since her husband passed away.

Masters was alone in her room when tornadoes tore through the region Monday night. Paralyzed with fear and unable to move quickly due to a recent hip surgery, she crept down the stairs and said she “didn’t know where to turn.”

Gomez White, whose family lives in the house next door to Masters, raced to check on his longtime neighbor moments after the storm hit and Trotwood went dark.

“We just heard a lot of banging and clanging, and next thing you know, our roof was taken off,” he told News 8. “I made sure my family was okay. I seen [Masters’] house was messed up, so I thought I should go in there and look. It was dark. No power. No nothing. I just heard her yelling, so I went in there and helped her.”

White insisted he was “no hero” and did “what anyone else would do” for a neighbor.

“He came and he carried me out because it was impossible to get through,” Masters said. “He was nice enough to help me get out of the house. I walked across the street and my kids came.”

Masters, her children and their families spent Tuesday picking through piles of debris, searching for her prized possessions.

“I think I hate to lose the pictures the most,” she said, brushing dirt and broken glass off an old school photo. “You can replace things. But these are memories.”​​​​​​​

Masters held up the faded third grade photo and smiled when she realized the grandson in the picture, now fully grown, had arrived to help her pack.

“I guess we’ll make new memories,” she said. “I’m okay, the kids are okay and my cats are safe.”