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A rare tornado flew through a small Gaylord community in northern Michigan on Friday, killing at least two people and injuring more than 40 when it overturned vehicles, tore roofs off buildings and caused other damage.
On Friday afternoon, around 3:40 p.m., it was confirmed that the tornado was moving through northern Michigan. He drove for about 15 minutes, wreaking havoc. At least one large building collapsed and several cars were overturned and destroyed. The mobile fleet of trailers is also badly damaged.
The tornado struck Gaylord, a community of about 4,200 people about 230 miles (370 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.
The National Weather Service on Saturday rated the twister as an EF3 tornado that carries a “maximum wind of 140 miles per hour.”
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in Gaylord has declared a state of emergency that has allowed the use of additional resources in the recovery.
“My heartfelt congratulations to the families and small businesses affected by the tornado and severe weather in Gaylord,” Whitmer said Friday night, according to MLive.com.
“I have declared a state of emergency in Otsego County to direct resources to the affected areas, and the State Emergency Operations Center has been activated to coordinate our state’s response,” she added.
“Michigan is tough. We are resilient. We will do whatever it takes to recover. There’s no problem we can’t go through together, ”Whitmer tweeted later that evening.
After the tornado in Gaylord I declared a state of emergency in Otsego County.
Michiganders are tough. We are resilient. We will do whatever it takes to recover. No problem we can’t go through together. pic.twitter.com/ulOp2GgZfc
– Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) May 21, 2022
More than 25,000 people in northern Lower Michigan were left without electricity by early Friday night.
Eddie Thrasher, 55, said he was sitting in his car near a auto parts store when a twister appeared above him.
“There are torn roofs from enterprises, a number of warehouses of industrial type,” said Thrasher. “The revocators were turned upside down and destroyed. There were a lot of ambulances coming from the east side of the city. “
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He said he ran to the store to drive.
“My adrenaline was going like crazy,” Thrasher said. “It was over in less than five minutes.”
Several homes were damaged and trees, and power lines were lowered and blocked roads, state police said on Twitter. Pictures posted on social networks show that several vans were broken into pieces in the parking lot.
Mike Klepadla, owner of the Alter-Start North garage, said he and his workers hid in the bathroom.
“I’m lucky to be alive. It blew up the back of the building,” he said. “Twenty feet (6 meters) of the back wall is gone. The whole roof is missing. At least half of the building is still here. That’s bad. “
A video posted on social media shows extensive damage along Gaylord’s main street. One building seemed to have largely collapsed, and the Goodwill store was badly damaged. A collapsed pole lay on the side of the road, and debris was scattered across the street, including electrical wires and parts of the Marathon gas station.
The Otsego Memorial Hospital said it had no comment on people seeking help because of the injuries. The Red Cross arranged a shelter at the church.
Severe weather is very unusual in northern Michigan.
Jim Caesar, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service from Gaylord, said extreme winds are rare because the Great Lakes drain energy from storms, especially in early spring when the lakes are very cold.
“Many children and young adults would never have experienced any harsh weather if they had lived in Gaylord all their lives,” he said.
The last time Gaylord was severely damaged by a storm was in 1998, when the rectilinear wind reached 100 miles per hour, the weather service said.
Brandy Slough, 42, said she and her teenage daughter were looking for safety at a toilet in Culver. The windows of the fast food restaurant were smashed when they appeared, and her pickup truck overturned on the roof in the parking lot.
“We shook our heads in disbelief, but we are grateful for the safety. At the moment, who is worried about the truck, ”Slough said.
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Governor Gretchen Whitmer made the following statement in response to severe weather in northern Michigan and a tornado in Gaylord.
“We are closely monitoring the extreme weather situation in Gaylord and Northern Michigan,” Whitmer said. “As Michigan State Police said, trees and power lines were felled and several homes and businesses were damaged.”
“The MSP is urging Michigan residents to avoid the Gaylord area,” Whitmer continued. Response and Utilities, who are making every effort to protect everyone. ”
The governor also shared on Twitter that her heart welcomes families and businesses affected by the tornado.
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“For the whole Gaylord-Michigan community with you,” she said. “We will do whatever it takes to recover.”
Michigan State Police wrote on Twitter that the city of Gaylord imposed a curfew on Friday at 7pm, which will be lifted on Saturday morning at 8am.
Lawrence Richard of Fox News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.