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Twisters hit Dayton, Ohio

Posted by Randy Boadway on

Memorial day 2019 started out as a normal day at eRockets we started early to get packages ready to be out the door the next day.  John came in at 4am to get started and I showed up at 9am to take care of concerns and open the door for shoppers and builders to spend part of their day here.  Joe S was here most of the day and Joe says Murphy follows him around a lot.  As soon as Joe left the building it started to rain.  I was hoping it was going to follow him home.

It was getting late and I decided it was time to turn in.  I swear I was not in bed 5 minutes and the alarm goes off!  Tornado Warning in your area take cover immediately!  Mind you I am in bed all comfy and the big pine tree outside my second story bedroom is still as can be.  It is raining and I can just hear the hail starting.  All I could think about was the hail damage that might occur to the roof.  Than I was completely at easy, I rent!  Who cares how much hail damage we get.  As I fall back a sleep with the gentle pounding of hail on the roof, the alarm goes off again!  Tornado Warning, take cover immediately!  At about 10 after midnight the power goes out.  Finally it is quite and I can sleep.

The next morning I arose with a phone call from John, it was about 5am and he finally made it to work.  He called because there was no power and the area looked like a war zone.  Fortunately for us at eRockets we took on no damage and despite the power loss everything was fine.  I texted Larry to let him know we had no power and I would let him know when we did, plan on a day off.  Little did we know that area was devastated by a number of tornadoes.

By the time I finally crawled out of bed and got a nice shower, in the dark, I was off to work.  I knew from the news that there had been some damage but really did not pay attention to the details.  With no electricity I was expecting slow going on my 5 minute drive to work.  There are a number of lights I had to pass through.  The local authorities had placed stop signs on sawhorses at dangerous intersections.  Some people still don't know that a traffic light without electricity automatically becomes a 4 way stop.  One of the main drags near home was closed going towards the city of Dayton.  My normal 5 minute drive took 30 minutes.  There are a few trees down and a little bit of debris all over the place.  Something had happened, but nothing to panic about.

I heard that the power company had hundreds of people coming into the area to restore power.  10% of their customers were without power.  There is a Casino on the way to work and they were staging incoming crews there to get their assignments.  There must have been 20 trucks with cherry pickers on them when I went by.

I arrived to find the road almost a perfect shad a green from all of the leaves that had been blown off of the trees.  Our yard sign out front was broken by the wind, it had already seen better days.  There was a package sitting outside of our door that the post office delivered, a box of motors from Aerotech.  Great, we needed those.  Since the postal service had already been here at least an hour earlier than normal I started to realize something was happening.  Everything inside and outside of the building looked good, just no power to run the lights and equipment.

Inside the building was nice a cool, the humidity was low because we had the air conditioning on prior to the power going out.  So working inside was quite comfortable.  I wanted to figure out my plan for the rest of the day and the next.  I arranged to go over to our church and hang out with my dog, Daisy, and my laptop to take care of any business I can.  Plus it was order day so I can be back in stock for the next weekend rush.  I also realized I had about 40 orders in the bullpen to pick and ship.  I started in on picking order by flashlight, this was something we could do if the power loss continued.  But how would I print labels?  That is going to take some work.  I figured I had better get to church and see if they can help us with some space, electricity, and internet service to help us out.  But I also had to pack up the truck with the weekend packages and get them to the post office, FedEx and DHL.  The truck was packed full.  Just then our FedEx guy pulls up, he said, no one was open and he saw me and decided to stop, that saved me a drop.

Before I left the building I was texting and talking to people to see if they were OK after the storm.  Everyone reported they were fine, some ran into some issues and some had no water or power.  Soon Julie G walled in the front door and said we just averted a disaster here.  Her husband Jeff got called to help the area emergency task-force to mobilize the response, Jeff is one of the best emergency response people I know.  We chatted for a few minutes and I found her 2 boys were both fine. She when off to check on others.  Minutes later Aaron J arrived on his bike and indicated there was devastation everywhere and he was out exploring and offering help where he could.  I loaded up my dog, laptop, some water and headed off to make my rounds.  Knowing my post office had no power I headed to the next town over to drop off packages.

At the end of Thunderhawk Ct I was met by a caravan of about a dozen utility trucks moving into the area.

I headed North to avoid the traffic.  WOW, it looked like a tornado struck as soon as it turned to the North.  Oh, it had.  Part of a building was down, dumpsters had been blown into the road, trees were down on the road and it looks like snow plows had moved them out of the way to allow traffic to flow.  Apparently that is actually what had happened.  There must have been a dozen building without roofs, they were blown all over the place.  Debris everywhere!

A few blocks further to the North there was no damage and the lights were on.  I headed straight for the Post Office in Huber Heights pulled up to their back door and unloaded onto a big rolling cart.  I rolled the packages inside where 2 clerks were there doing their thing when I announced myself.  You are from eRockets aren't you, I must be famous even with the neighboring post office.  I answered yes, they both had been our our route as a sub picking up parcels.  Everyone knows about the rocket shop in Dayton!

Daisy and I moved on heading for DHL and lunch.  DHL was closed, no power.  McDonalds was a fast bite and I finally got to have an ice coffee!  Down the road was our church where we took refuge to cool off and get some work done.  Daisy was treated like a queen and I was able to finally get to email and phone calls.  Plus I had to get our Purchase Order system up and running so I could place orders.  Since my backup laptop is not always connected to the internet my software was out of date and it would not update so I had to delete and reinstall it.  It is always something.  After a few hours orders were placed, bodies were cooled, and we headed for home for a good night of sleep so we could start all over again with our adventure.

At about 1pm I had decided if we did not have power at eRockets we would have to cancel the open house and build that was planned. This was a tough decision because we had never had to cancel the evening event. But with bad traffic, no power in much of the area and the humid hot conditions being there building in the dark was just not going to happen. Dave C was also in the process of asking WSR members for a role call to make sure we heard from all of the members to validate they were OK and see if they needed help with anything. Many WSR members came foreword offering assistance.

While we were at church I had a chance to talk to or text a number of people.  Everyone was fine and a few had property damage and quite a few had no power or water.  I also devised a plan that would be less disruptive to the business for filing orders the next day.  Run the equipment we needed using power inverters using the club batteries.  The batteries were all there and we have been charging them regularly.  We can have internet access through our phone hot spots.  We have had to do this before when we had internet problems.  We just had to pick orders by flashlight.  I texted our staff with the plan so we could start at 8am Wednesday.

We headed home to our dark apartment, decided on making a PB&J sandwich for dinner, Daisy had her dog food.  Carol ate out on the way home from work.  And at 7:08pm the alarm at the shop went off.  That is great news, the power at eRockets was back on!  I texted our staff and let them know all was as normal starting tomorrow.

Of course being in business having some kind of problem going on is normal.  Not unlike my competitor Apogee having a snow day delay in May!  We had our issues with a computer hard drive going bad, the refrigerator blowing a breaker and bad water so we had to use bottled water to make coffee.  But all was good.

Of course the saga has not yet ended.  I saw on one of the local TV stations they had an article about the Action Sports complex being destroyed.  Oh no, this is close to where our new building is.  We have run out of space and planning on moving to a larger facility closer to the Air Force Museum.  Then the call came in, have you seen your new neighborhood?  It looks like buildings are down there.  Larry was planning on making a delivery of Astra 3 rockets to the Air Force Museum this afternoon and I asked him to stop by the new building to investigate.  He did and after a phone call to the owner of the building I found that there was a lot of damage to the roof.  We need to delay the move again.

So in celebration of this huge disaster to Semroc and the Dayton area we are running a promotion on the Twister, all in good humor...

I wonder if this saga will continue...

respectfully submitted,

Randy Boadway

eRockets the proud manufacturers of the Semroc flying model rocket kits 

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