Weather service: 3 tornadoes touched down in Monroe, Wayne counties

The National Weather Service confirmed three separate tornadoes touched down Tuesday night in Monroe and Wayne counties. 

Dennis Pogarch walks pass the remains of the family barn at Steiner Road in Frenchtown Township on Wednesday, September 26, 2018.

In Monroe County, an EF-1 tornado touched down in Frenchtown Township and an EF-0 hit Berlin Township. In Wayne County's Gibraltar, an EF-1 also touched down, the weather service said Wednesday.

MoreTrees, roofs destroyed in Monroe, Wayne

"It's not common, but it's not unusual for multiple to touch down in Michigan," said meteorologist Steve Considine. "These are considered weak tornadoes. We had moist, humid air with cold wind front last night, it was expected the storm could turn into tornadoes." 

The National Weather Service tweeted Wednesday the first tornado touched down in Frenchtown 8:23 p.m. Tuesday with winds between 95 to 100 miles per hour.

It began as a weak tornado doing damage mainly to trees "until near Reinhardt and Heiss roads. where it became a solid EF0," according to the report from the weather service. "The tornado reached EF1 strength near Toben and South Stony Creek roads where roofing material was removed leaving exposed trusses and windows that were blown out of homes in the area."

The entire path of the tornado lasted for 4.3 miles. The report also said garage doors were blown in and many trees were uprooted. 

At 8:45 p.m., the EF-0 tornado touched down in Berlin Township just south of Sigler Road on North Dixie Highway. It moved about 4 miles at 60 mph and dissipated at 8:52 p.m. near the intersection of Meadow Lane and Ostreich Road in Wayne County. 

The Gibraltar tornado lasted from 8:55-9:02 p.m., during which it traveled 3.3 miles at 95 mph and was rated an EF-1. 

Nobody was injured in the storms. 

Earlier in the day Wednesday, Jason Harmon, 33, said he hadn’t heard a ruling on whether it was a tornado that passed through his neighborhood in Frenchtown Township, but couldn't imagine it was anything else.

“It’s tough to believe, if someone says it’s not a tornado, looking at the trees and decimation out here,” Harmon said.

Harmon’s garage was ripped in two. Siding was torn from the home and Harmon had to make a late trip to Lowe’s to replace a 10-foot by 20-foot section. 

But for his abilities as a handyman, and a friend who had a second extension ladder, “we’d be in a bit of a bind,” he admitted as he surveyed the damage.

The back patio area also took damage, along with a grill and some backyard items that were “scattered through the neighborhood,” but he, his wife and two children, including a 1-month-old daughter, are safe. 

And thanks to a generator, they have power. 

“Without that we’d be hurting,” Harmon said.

Phil Borawski, who lives two doors from Harmon, has lived on his block since 1992, before the road was even paved.

Borawski described the harm done.

“Whole roof came out, pushed the wall out,” he said. “All kinds of water damage. Everything that was in the attic came down from the attic. The attic door was ripped off.”

His insurance company dispatched contractors to put a temporary roof on the home, but, like Harmon, he believes it could be “months” until the family home is made whole.

That journey would start with a likely stay in a hotel Wednesday night, as the house has been too damaged to call home for now.

In one Gibraltar neighborhood, residents were dealing with damage that included cars crushed under uprooted trees.

At Dan Dreher's house, trees landed on three full-size trucks and one SUV in the driveway.

“We have no vehicles,” said the 37-year-old, who was working at the time the storm hit. “It’ll be awhile on that, because the insurance company said it can’t even remove the vehicles until the trees are cleared.”

Rodney Cook, 47, and girlfriend Brandy Shaffer, 45, live in a condominium off West Jefferson in Gibraltar, and it took "less than a minute" for the storm to descend. 

“It got calm for a second,” Shaffer said.

“There was no wind, nothing," Cook added. "Then, out of the blue ... "

Storms uprooted three trees Tuesday, Sept. 26, at Dan Dreher’s home in Gibraltar, and the trees damaged four vehicles in the driveway.

“It sounded like a jet plane,” Shaffer said, finishing her boyfriend's thought. “I could see the wind coming toward us.” 

The couple then took cover in the bathroom.

The next morning, with half the building’s roof torn off, the couple swears they lived through a tornado, not mere high winds.

“I do think it was a tornado,” Shaffer said, citing the water that sucked back into the toilet and the loud boom.