Second death reported after tornado damages northern Michigan town – WHIO TV 7 and WHIO Radio
GAYLORD, Mich. — A tornado ripped through a small northern Michigan town on Friday, killing at least two people and injuring 44, authorities said.
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The tornado struck Gaylord, a town of about 4,200 people located about 230 miles northwest of Detroit, the Associated Press reported.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” Gaylord Mayor Todd Sharrard said. “I’m numb.”
Updated at 10:12 a.m. EDT May 21: state of michigan Police reported a second death in Friday’s tornado in Gaylord, Michigan, according to The Associated Press.
The person was in his 60s and lived in a mobile home park, Lt. Derrick Carroll said at a Saturday news conference.
The first victim also lived in the mobile home park and was in her 60s, WDIV-TV reported.
Extreme spring winds are rare in northern Michigan because the Great Lakes, which are cold this time of year, neutralize storm energy, National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Keysor told the AP. based in Gaylord.
Gaylord officials said 6,500 residents were without power, WDIV reported.
Update at 9:12 a.m. EDT May 21: According to Michigan State Police and Gaylord Mayor Todd Sharrard, the tornado first hit a trailer park and continued for a two to three mile swath through the city, reported WDIV-TV.
“I would say he was on the ground for about two hours,” Sharrad told the TV station. “It wiped out a Hobby Lobby, Jimmy Johns, Quick Lube in our west end of town, then it came to town and wiped out a lot of homes.”
Update 11:23 p.m. EDT May 20: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer traveled to Gaylord and declared a state of emergency following Friday’s tornado in Otsego County.
“I have declared a state of emergency for Otsego County to rush resources to affected areas, and the State Emergency Operations Center has been activated to coordinate our state’s response” , Whitmer said. “Our state is grateful to the first responders and utility workers who are working hard to keep everyone safe. The Michiganders are tough. We are resilient. And there is no challenge that we cannot meet together.
Update 9:58 p.m. EDT May 20: According to Michigan State Police, 23 people were taken to Otsego Memorial Hospital, 12 were transported to Grayling Hospital and eight were taken to McLaren Northern Michigan Petoskey. The other patient was taken to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City.
Update 9:21 p.m. EDT May 20: Gaylord Mayor Todd Sharrard confirmed that at least 44 people were injured as a result of Friday’s rare tornado in northern Michigan, WLNS-TV reported.
Update 8:01 p.m. EDT May 20: A hospital spokesperson told The Associated Press that at least one person was killed and 23 people were being treated for injuries after a tornado hit the northern Michigan town of Gaylord .
Munson Healthcare spokesman Brian Lawson said he had no details about who was killed or the conditions of those injured by the tornado, according to the AP.
Original report: The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning at 3:38 p.m. EDT, and officials observed the tornado three minutes later moving toward the city at 50 mph, WZZM-TV reported. A weather service employee observed the tornado about a mile west of Gaylord around 3:53 p.m., MLive.com reported.
Michigan Department of Transportation officials told WDIV-TV the tornado touched down near a Home Depot on the west side of town before moving east.
“It’s a busy downtown, and he walked through it,” Michigan Department of Natural Resources Lt. Jim Gorno told CNN. “We are not used to it here. We don’t have sirens like in other parts of the country.
Ambulances took injured people to area hospitals, Michigan State Police told the AP. No deaths have been confirmed, according to the news agency.
Eddie Thrasher, 55, told the AP he was sitting in his vehicle outside an auto parts store when the tornado suddenly appeared.
“There are roofs ripped off businesses, a row of industrial-type warehouses,” Thrasher told the AP, adding that he ran into the store for cover. “Motorhomes were overturned and destroyed. There were a lot of emergency vehicles coming from the east end of town.
“My adrenaline was racing like crazy. In less than five minutes, it was over.
Several homes were damaged and trees and power lines were down and blocking roads, state police said on Twitter. Footage shared on social media showed several shredded motorhomes in a parking lot.
Mike Klepadlo, owner of an auto repair shop in Gaylord, said he and his employees hid in a bathroom.
“I’m lucky to be alive. He blew up the back of the building,” Klepadlo told the AP. “Twenty feet of the back wall is gone. The whole roof is missing. At least half of the building is still there. It’s bad.”
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer released a statement on Twitternoting that “Michigan is with you.”
“We will do whatever it takes to rebuild,” the governor said tweeted.
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