Thousands without power, school damaged in West Michigan storms

Weather News

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A line of fast-moving storms with gusty winds and quick, heavy downpours damaged a school in Muskegon, pulled down trees and knocked out power for thousands in West Michigan Tuesday.

Muskegon County was hit hard with intense winds that reached around 50 mph. The storms damaged Cardinal Elementary on Marquette Avenue in Muskegon.

Students and staff were in the building at the time and took shelter. No one was hurt.

“We have procedures in place when there’s bad weather and students knew how to react to that and we put students in safe areas of the building until the storm passed through,” Jim Nielsen said. 

The roof above the cafeteria and gym were damaged. There was flooding and water damage because of the roof damage, the school’s superintendent said.

The school, which is part of the Orchard View school system, will be closed Wednesday because of the damage. Officials are hoping to open the school back up again Thursday.

A fourth-grade student described the frightening moments from inside the school. 

“They had us get out of the classroom, sit in the hallway,” Mayzen Routt said. 

Meanwhile, Mayzen’s family was dealing with storm damage of their own as crews worked to remove a tree that fell on top of their home during the storm. 

A tree falls on the Mayzen family’s home in the Muskegon area after storms pass through West Michigan on Sept. 7, 2021.

A few blocks over, a 60-foot oak tree just missed a home after it came crashing down during the storm. 

The homeowner is relieved none of his property was damaged. 

“I was lucky it didn’t hit my truck because usually, I park my truck right where that tree was,” Henry Herrera said. 

A tree was also down at Baker College in Muskegon.

A tree knocked down at Baker College in Muskegon as storms pass through on Sept. 7, 2021. (Courtesy: Angela Johnson)

Wind gusts of 69 mph were recorded at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport.

Multiple trees were knocked over in Kalamazoo. A giant tree fell on a house near Fairbanks Court and Hinsdell Place. No one was injured, authorities told News 8.

The National Weather Service radar in Grand Rapids was either struck by lightning or impacted by a close lightning strike, knocking the radar out. Surrounding radar sites, like in Detroit and Chicago, are still up and helping to fill the gap.

The line of severe storms had formed by noon across Wisconsin and Traverse City, Michigan. Some of the storms in Wisconsin produced hail as big as tennis balls.

POWER OUTAGES

The storms knocked out power for thousands across Michigan. Consumers Energy said about 80,000 customers lost power during Tuesday’s storms. Kalamazoo County was the hardest hit, with over 15,000 Consumers Energy customers losing power.

The utility company said it expects the majority of affected customers to have power restored by Thursday. Customers in areas with the most severe damage will be restored by Friday evening, it said. Crews from Ohio and Alabama are helping in the restoration effort.

“We know how frustrating it is to be without power, so we’re working tirelessly and safely to bring the lights back on as quickly possible,” Guy Packard, Consumers Energy’s vice president for electric operations, said in a release.

As of around 9:40 p.m. Wednesday, the following West Michigan counties had more than 100 outages, according to the Consumers Energy outage map:

  • Branch County: 182 
  • Calhoun County: 561 
  • Kalamazoo County: 1,358
  • Mecosta County: 191
  • Montcalm County: 131
  • Van Buren County: 251

Stay at least 25 feet away from downed wires and call 911 or Consumers Energy at 800.477.5050.

Drivers should watch for crews working on the side of the road.

Any portable generators should also be at least 25 feet away from doors, windows and fresh air intakes in a place with good ventilation, Consumers reminded people. They should never be placed in an enclosed area like a garage or your home.

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