‘Wham!’: Downed trees cause damage as strong winds swept through W MI

Kent County

ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — A fast-moving storm Tuesday night left behind trails of damage in West Michigan neighborhoods. 

In Rockford, John and Amy Darling say they heard strong winds and rain blow in around 11 p.m.

“We were actually sleeping at the time and woke up to a rushing wind and scraping noise and it was all over in less than a minute,” Amy Darling said.

She said when they got out of bed, they noticed their patio furniture thrown about, downed trees in their backyard and smelled gas. They say several trees snapped, fell on their home and broke a natural gas line. 

“We’ve had storms where we’ve had one tree down or maybe two but this is by far the worse,” John Darling said Wednesday as he stood next to his wife on their deck looking at the damage. 

Darling estimates between 12 and 15 trees fell. He and his wife say that while there was extensive damage to their property, none of their neighbors saw any damage — though everyone in the area lost power.

The storm also damaged cars in Rockford. Ashley Zeitter said she waited until the rain calmed before leaving her grandparents’ home, headed toward her house in Ada, only to have a willow tree fall on top of her car. 

“I was driving down Blakely Drive and there was nothing going on. I saw the branches and it just — wham! Then my car was going everywhere and it pushed me right into a ditch,” Zeitter recalled.

“The front right side, the whole front is smashed in. You can see everything, the whole engine and everything,” she described the damage to her SUV. “My windshield where I was is smashed and my mirror’s off and taillight is broken.”

She was not hurt.

Some of the most extensive damage was in a neighborhood in Wayland. One neighbor reported three uprooted trees fell on his home at once. He said he was painting at the time. 

“I’m painting a picture for ArtPrize and I was sitting in my studio. The lights flickered three times and then I just heard all these crashes. It almost sounded like real heavy hail,” said Colin Mead, who lives on Forrest Street. “It’s a mess. It’s a mess because they’re all fully leafed out trees. They’re very thick trees.”

Trees hit Mead’s fence and covered his driveway. There were also several power lines down in his yard. He said he hopes things don’t get worse as more storms are expected overnight Wednesday into Thursday.

“I’m just hoping that the holes in my roof don’t leak too much. That’s my worry right now and I’m hoping it doesn’t rain too hard, which it already is,” Mead said.

Some neighbors in Wayland say they’ve been advised by their energy supplier that power could be out until Friday. 

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