Thirteen recorded tornadoes caused destruction across western Ohio on May 27, including the city of Dayton and surrounding areas. Dayton is a major water supplier to towns and cities in the area, like the rural water system in Brookville. Due to the damage from the EF4 tornado, the system in Dayton stopped supplying water to Brookville, causing depressurization in their system.
Brookville’s Service Director, Chris Holman, contacted Tim Ballard, Ohio Rural Water Association Circuit Rider and head of the Ohio Rural Water Disaster Task Force, to assist with recovering from three tornadoes that hit the area.
“For an area that had never experienced a tornado like this, they were still well prepared,” Ballard said.
Ballard said the city’s staff had already completed a visual check when he arrived on the scene. The wastewater treatment facility was in the direct path of the tornado, but the system didn’t miss a beat during operation with the help of their back up generator.
When Ballard arrived in Brookville, he developed an initial plan with Holman to perform a leak investigation on all areas with homes that were destroyed or were heavily damaged after water was redistributed to the area. The goal of the investigation was to conduct a preliminary assessment of the damage from the tornado and isolate specific service laterals that needed further repairs to restore pressurization to the system.
In the early hours of May 30, Brookville started to recirculate water again. Through the leak investigation, Ballard was able to isolate various leaks and other areas with issues and improve the pressurization of the system. By late afternoon on May 30, the system was fully pressurized, all areas of the system were surveyed, and all homes that had leaks were turned off. By late afternoon on June 1, all sampling had been completed and the system returned to normal operation.
“What stood out to me the most is that the city was extremely thorough and helped the citizens respond to the emergency,” Ballard said. “The staff of the service department showed extreme dedication, arriving at the office only an hour after the initial hit of the tornado and working late into the next day.”
While most of the city was unaffected by the direct path of the tornado, there were many homes that withstood damage. A total of 39 homes were destroyed, 42 had major damage, 55 had minor damage and 180 were affected by the tornado that hit Brookville.