Tornado wreaks havoc in northern Michigan community

A tornado ripped through a small community in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula on Friday, overturning vehicles, ripping off the roofs of buildings and causing other damage.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths caused by the tornado that struck Gaylord, a community of approximately 4,200 people about 370 kilometers northwest of Detroit.

Eddie Thrasher, 55, said he was sitting in his car outside an auto parts store when the Twister appeared overhead.

“There’s roofs that have been ripped off shops, a bunch of industrial warehouses,” Thrasher said. “Mobile homes were turned upside down and destroyed. There were many emergency vehicles on the road from the east of the city.”

He said he ran into the store to sit it out.

“My adrenaline was going like crazy,” Thrasher said. “It was over in less than five minutes.”

Several homes were damaged and trees and power lines were downed and roads blocked, state police said on Twitter. Images shared on social media showed several RVs blown to bits in a parking lot.

Mike Klepadlo, owner of Alter-Start North, an auto repair shop, said he and his workers took cover in a bathroom.

“I’m lucky to be alive. It blew the back of the building off,” he said. “Twenty feet (6 meters) of the back wall is gone. The whole roof is missing. At least half of the building still stands here. It’s bad.”

Videos posted to social media showed extensive damage along Gaylord’s main street. A building appeared to have largely collapsed and part of a Goodwill store was damaged. A collapsed utility pole lay by the side of the road, and debris, including what appeared to be electrical cords and parts of a Marathon gas station, was strewn across the street.

Otsego Memorial Hospital said it has no comment on people seeking treatment for injuries.

Brandie Slough, 42, said she and a teenage daughter sought safety in a toilet at a Culver’s. The fast-food restaurant’s windows were blown when they came out, and their pickup truck had overturned in the rooftop parking lot.

“We shook our heads in disbelief but are grateful to be safe. Who cares about the truck at this point,” Slough said.

Known as the ‘Alpine Village’, Gaylord is celebrating its 100th birthday this year with a centenary celebration that will include a parade and an open house at City Hall later this summer.

The community also hosts the annual Alpenfest in July, an Alpine-inspired celebration honoring the city’s heritage and a partnership with a sister city in Switzerland.


White reported from Detroit. AP reporters Corey Williams in Detroit, Ken Kusmer in Indianapolis, and Sara Burnett in Chicago contributed. Tornado wreaks havoc in northern Michigan community

Bobby Allyn

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