W. Michigan communities clean up after tornado hits
Wyoming, Mich. — The buzz of chain saws and generators echoed through some west Michigan communities on Sunday as people cleared trees and limbs downed by a fierce storm a day earlier.
The National Weather Service on Sunday confirmed one tornado touched down on Saturday, and crews were out trying to determine if there were any others.
An EF-1 tornado with winds of 90 mph touched down about 3:10 p.m. Saturday near Orleans, 30 miles east of Grand Rapids, and was on the ground for eight miles through Ionia and Montcalm counties. The weather service said the tornado brought down several large trees, including one that landed on a house, and blew out a garage wall.
Consumers Energy reported more than 12,000 homes and businesses lost power at one point.
Among the hardest hit communities was the city of Wyoming, just southwest of Grand Rapids. Betsy Domsic, 26, waited outside her rental home while work crews in cherry pickers began to remove a large branch from the roof. She was able to safely leave before the storm began, but returned to find the downed tree and her home leaking natural gas.
“I didn’t know what to do or who to call,” she said.
Domsic was fortunate enough to have friends to help, she said. Neighbors brought packs of water and helped each other move branches.
Ron King said he and his family, including his 4-day-old daughter Alayna, sheltered in a basement bathroom during the storm.
“We heard a snap, followed by some scratching sounds, then 30 seconds later a crack,” he said. “Everyone was safe outside of the fact of having a newborn with us. That was the scariest thing, making sure she was OK.”
No one was injured despite a tree crushing the roof of the house.
Emergency responders, local law enforcement and area fire departments worked alongside volunteers to clean up in Bangor, a small community 25 miles west of Kalamazoo in southwest Michigan.
“The whole north and west side of town was hit really bad over here,” said Jim Taylor, public works director. “My mom lives on the north side. Her garage was lifted 2 feet up off its foundation.”
The storm ripped apart a section of the large cold-storage building at True Blue Farms, a blueberry farm north of Bangor. It carried part of the roof a quarter-mile away, said Shelley Hartmann, who owns the farm with her husband. The building holds most of the late-season crop. Hartmann said she hopes they’ll be able to save the berries.
“We’re hoping for the best here,” she said.