Blue Ash, Montgomery residents remember deadly April 9, 1999 tornado

Video shows 1999 Chopper 9 footage of damage

MONTGOMERY, Ohio -- Fifty-seven minutes of terror.

That’s what residents of Blue Ash and Montgomery experienced 16 years ago Thursday when a powerful tornado ripped through their communities.

The twister, which struck April 9, 1999, carved a massive path of damage, leaving both death and destruction it its wake. It was categorized as an EF4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, meaning it hit speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.

Four people were killed and more than 900 homes and businesses were destroyed. Officials said the damage cost the cities about $200 million.

While the physical scars of the cities have mostly healed, for many who experienced the disaster, the memories still linger. 

Last year, for the 15th anniversary of that deadly day, WCPO spoke with residents who lived through the traumatic experience.

“When you're traumatized, either physically or emotionally, it doesn't go away," said Denny Riedmiller, who witnessed the tornado.

Every year, Riedmiller attends a small memorial service next to Sycamore High School in Montgomery to help cope with the memories that cause him pain.

“Sometimes, we need things like this,” he said, holding back tears. “We need our churches, our synagogues, our temples and places of worship so we can express ourselves and be part of God’s love.”

Dick Scheuerle and his wife Janet said the tornado tore through their neighborhood.

"It sounded like a freight train was coming through our bedroom window," Dick said. "(My) street was nothing but rubble. The houses that were completely blown down, and roofs… that's something that, even though it has been 15 years – I’ll never forget it."

Despite the emotional pain, Dick, Janet and Riedmiller say their community is stronger.

Montgomery officials have helped them train as second responders, in case of another emergency.

"We don't want any tragedy to happen to any family,” Riedmiller said. “But if it does, we're ready.”

Watch the video in the player above to see images of the aftermath taken by Chopper 9 in 1999 compared to today.

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