Tornado rips through mid-Michigan; 50-70 buildings damaged


VERNON, Mich. (WOOD) — A tornado touched down in mid-Michigan Thursday evening, tearing into homes near Durand as severe storms marched across the Lower Peninsula.

There were no reports of any injuries.

“Incredible,” Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole said about that. “We’re very lucky this evening that there is no serious injuries, no fatalities. But we don’t want to have any, either. So we are encouraging people, again, stay in your houses. We still have lots of power lines down. Do not go out if they hear some zapping or things. That’s when you may get hurt or killed.”

The tornado was spotted shortly before 7 p.m. in the village of Vernon northwest of Durand, the National Weather Service said. Initial indications put it on the ground for around 10 minutes.

At least 50 structures in the area were damaged, BeGole said. Michigan State Police estimated 70 buildings were hit.

>>Watch: Daylight reveals tornado damage in Vernon Township

One woman was trapped in her home when power lines fell over it. She wasn’t hurt, but crews were working fast to get to her because she was on oxygen.

Witnesses said a tool and die shop was lifted up and then dropped back down. Across the street, roofs were stripped from mobile homes and campers.

MSP said troopers were going door-to-door to check on everyone and its helicopter was in the air over the damage zone.

Joey Stinson shared cellphone video of the tornado on Twitter, saying his house was among the damaged structures.

WJRT, the ABC affiliate of out of Flint, reported there was additional damage in the Bancroft area, southwest of Durand, with fallen trees and a barn knocked down.

Further northwest in Genesee County, the NWS said a trained spotter found tornado damage around the town of Flushing, including a flattened pole barn, around 7:20 p.m. There was also apparent straightline wind damage at a mobile home park in the Mount Morris area: roofs were damaged and one trailer was blown off its foundation.

The NWS says there are multiple snapped power poles. The Consumers Energy interactive power outage map showed thousands of customers without power in Shiawassee and Genesee counties.

The Corunna Community Center was open Friday with showers and other accommodations for tornado victims.


In West Michigan, the biggest problem caused by the storms was flooding. Big Rapids Public Schools called off Friday classes due to flooding in the building.

Montcalm and Newaygo counties reported multiple road closures because of water over the road or washouts.

In Newaygo County, 12 Mile Road washed out between Maple Island and Dickinson avenues in Colfax Township.

Officials advised anyone who sees standing water over the road to turn around and try another route. You should never try to drive through standing water because it’s difficult to tell how deep it is or whether the road underneath is still intact.

There was also some wind damage in southwest Michigan. In Portage, a tree fell into a house on Missouri Avenue north of W. Milham Havenue. No one was hurt. The homeowners will have to stay out of the house unil the damage is fixed.

Thursday’s bad weather diverted some flights headed into the Lansing area to Gerald R. Ford International Airport near Grand Rapids.

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