The monstrous winds that overturned cars and blew roofs off homes are gone, but the co-owner of a Trotwood business responsible for a major food drive says the pain is far from over for many Dayton-area residents impacted by the Memorial Day tornadoes.
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"We have to continue (to help). The people aren't OK because the storm has not passed," Carl Johnson told this news organization by phone. "The storm is still here. It is going to be here for years."
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Johnson, the owner of Arena Sports Bar at 4515 Salem Ave., is in Los Angeles meeting with friends and connections in the entertainment industry about helping with tornado relief efforts in the Dayton area, where 15 tornadoes damaged homes and/or left people without electricity or water for days.
Johnson, his staff, Arena co-owner TY Bobo and friend Thomas McDuffy distributed more than 10,000 meals to those impacted by the tornadoes.
Their work drew a visit from a nationally known comedian on Saturday, June 1.
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Accompanied by David Webb, the CEO and founder of the Funk Music Hall of Fame and Exhibition Center, comedian Sinbad, who recently appeared on the Fox sitcom "Rel," visited the distribution space set up in Arena's parking lot Saturday.
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“I know everybody thinks about it the first week. I know everybody thinks about it the second week, but if ya’ll could just keep Dayton in your prayers,” Sinbad said in a video captured by the Funk Center. “Not just your prayers... Send help.”
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The comedian was in the Dayton area for shows at the Funny Bone in Beavercreek.
Sinbad, a longtime friend of Webb’s, said he was impressed by the community’s response to the tornadoes and helping neighbors recover.
"I'm amazed at how fast the community started taking care of itself. They didn't wait for FEMA; they just started taking care," Sinbad said.
Johnson told this news organization today that Arena’s effort started with a small cookout.
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It grew with help from community members who dropped off everything from truckloads of water to boxes of diapers.
The sports bar will be reopening today, but Johnson, a long-time Trotwood business owner, said the efforts to help the community rebound will not end.
The bar will be organizing clean-ups.
He said he would hate to see those impacted by the tornado pack up and move elsewhere as people’s attention moves to the next big news story.
“We want to rebuild,” he said. “We do not want to lose these people.”
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