Tornado of ’85 levels Niles

Tornado 85 Niles Damage

Death and destruction was everywhere.

It was estimated that a storm moved through Niles around 7:00 leaving a path of down trees, power lines, and many homeless. Around Niles-Vienna Road, a convenient food store was demolished trapping several people inside.

“There was supposed to be 1 other child here, we’re still looking, we’re trying to turn over every stone before leaving.” “Tell me how many people were in the building at the time?” “I really don’t know. We have 4 other sections of town. 1 that I’m really concerned about is the roller rink I understand there are people trapped in that building. Also the plaza next to it has been leveled.”

That area at the hill of 422 in Niles was hit the hardest. 3 major buildings were destroyed. A newly constructed, but not open, senior citizens complex, the top of the strip roller rink, and a small shopping plaza.

One eye witness said the whole thing was over in a matter of minutes. “We saw a grey cloud and all of a sudden something swirl up. I saw a lot of leaves and debris. Then I realized it was a tornado.” “Have you been to the roller rink what did you see?” “There’s nothing there, the whole area is flat. There’s a plaza there with 15 stores it’s flat. There’s nothing there.”

Police and rescue squads rush to the scene trying to free the people apparently trapped inside the shopping plaza.  Metro LifeFlight helicopter flew in from Cleveland to take the injured to area hospitals. As night fell, it was a scene of chaos. As there were reports of a possible gas leak and a new storm heading in the same direction.

There were some cars that are on the other side of the mall that authorities discovered. These cars were parked not too far from where I’m standing. But when the tornado hit, the cars were blown by the impact over the rubble of the mall. These were just discovered a short time ago and the authorities are going in to see if there are any victims still there.

The twister, which hit the strip with such force, saved some of its fury for this portion of Steel Wagon Road, which is only 500 yards or so to the Northeast. The damage was such that the crews moved from one shattered home to another, not bothering to count how many homes were hit. There were some injuries reported, but none seemed to be serious, at least at the time these shots were taken. There was one home were no resident could be found. The firemen were hoping that no one was home at the time, hoping not because someone was buried in the rubble.

The biggest thing hampering the search and rescue efforts here on Steel Wagon Road one of those residential gas meters sitting the front yard had be sheered off and natural gas was creating an explosion hazard throughout the scene. You could follow the path of the storm as it continued toward the Northeast. Most roads in Southern Trumbull County were impassable or blocked by personnel. We heard the sheriff’s deputy as he saw the finally roar across Route 7, between Route 62 and 82. That was at 10 minutes past 7. Before it crossed Route 7, it virtually wiped out the area known as Colberg at Wick Cammbell and Chestnut Ridge Roads. The Brookfield Fire Chief told us that 4 injured persons were taken from here. 2 appeared to be seriously hurt.

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