GAYLORD, Mich. (WOOD) — One person has died after what the National Weather Service described as a “large and extremely dangerous tornado” touched down the Gaylord area Friday, causing damage to businesses and leading to injuries.
Munson Healthcare spokesman Brian Lawson said Friday that he had no details about the person who was killed or the conditions of those who were hurt by the tornado that rushed through Gaylord. At a press conference just before 10 p.m. Friday night, Michigan State Police said there were 44 injuries.
Governor Whitmer signed a disaster declaration in the City of Gaylord Friday night in an effort to make it easier for the state government to more easily assist local emergency crews.
“We’re moving fast so we can do as much as we can as quickly as possible,” Whitmer said before signing the emergency declaration.
She says it will allow for coordination of state efforts in combination with Michigan State Police. Whitmer urged Michiganders to avoid the Gaylord area while emergency crews respond.
At 3:46 p.m. on Friday, NWS Gaylord issued a rare ‘particularly dangerous situation tornado warning.” The tornado was spotted near M-32 and Murner Road, just west of downtown Gaylord.
Radar showed the system tracked at about 55 mph over Gaylord, entering at the west and ending over the north side of the city within five minutes.
Photos tweeted by MSP show damage to a Goodwill, Hobby Lobby and Jimmy John’s on M-32 on the west side of town. Part of the Goodwill’s roof and a wall appeared to be sheared away. Part of the roof and the sign of the Jimmy John’s was ripped away.
MSP also reported multiple homes and businesses were damaged and that trees and power lines were blocking roadways. People were advised to avoid the area. The Michigan Department of Transportation says southbound I-75 is closed at M-32 due to debris.
Consumers Energy said in a statement that as of 11 p.m. on Friday night, about 12,000 of a total of 14,000 customers impacted were without power. It announced that 100 crews were mobilized to respond to power outages caused by the tornado.
Consumers said if you see a downed power line, stay at least 25 feet away from it and do not touch the line or anything it may be touching. Report it immediately to 911 and then Consumers Energy at 800.477.5050.
MSP said the American Red Cross is setting up a shelter at E-Free Church at 1649 E. M-32. The city asked people to shelter in place and issued a 7 p.m. curfew. The curfew was scheduled to lift at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tweeted that her “heart goes out” to the people of Gaylord following the storm.
“To the entire Gaylord community—Michigan is with you. We will do what it takes to rebuild,” she tweeted.
“We are monitoring the extreme weather situation in Gaylord and Northern Michigan closely. As Michigan State Police have noted, trees and power lines are down, and multiple homes and businesses have been damaged. The MSP urge Michiganders to avoid the Gaylord area. Emergency crews are responding to help residents and assess the damage. Severe thunderstorm watches and warnings remain in effect throughout Northern Michigan. Our thoughts are with the impacted communities and first responders and utility workers who are working hard to keep everyone safe. For up-to-date information and alerts, follow @mspnorthernmi.”Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
There was a continuing threat of severe weather in Michigan through 3 a.m. Saturday. That threat was higher in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula than in West Michigan. A region from Muskegon to Greenville and north was in a slight risk area and the area south of that a marginal risk.
The main threats were strong winds and damaging hail.
—Wells Foster from WOOD TV8’s Lansing sister WLNS and WOOD TV8’s Anna Skog contributed to this report.