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Saturday, November 26, 2022

1 killed, over 40 injured in rare northern Michigan hurricane

Gaylord, Mich. ( Associated Press) — A rare northern Michigan tornado ripped through a small community Friday, killing at least one person and injuring more than 40 others as it flipped vehicles, ripping roofs off buildings. broke and toppled trees and power lines.

The twister struck Gaylord, a city of about 4,200 people, about 230 miles (370 kilometers) northwest of Detroit at approximately 3:45 a.m.

Mike Klepadlow, who owns car repair shop Alter-Start North, said he and his workers took cover in a bathroom.

“I’m lucky I’m alive. It blew up the back of the building,” he said. “Twenty feet (6 meters) of the back wall is gone. The entire roof is missing. At least half the building is still here.” . This is bad.”

Emma Goddard, 15, said she was working at the Tropical Smoothie Cafe when she received a phone call about the tornado. Thinking that the weather outside was looking “stormy, but not scary”, she dismissed it and returned to what she was doing. Then her mother called and she assured her mother that she was fine.

Two minutes later, she was pouring a customer’s smoothie when her coworker’s mom yelled at them to go to the back of the building, Goddard told The Associated Press by text message. He took refuge in a walk-in cooler, where he heard the sound of windows breaking.

“I was coming to my smoothie side by side with seven of my coworkers, the parents of two of my coworkers, and a lady from Door Dash.”

Brian Lawson, a spokesman for Munson Healthcare, said Otsego Memorial Hospital was treating 23 people who were injured by the storm and one person died. He did not know the condition of the injured or the name of the person who died.

The Michigan State Patrol confirmed that one person was killed, saying in a tweet that more than 40 others were injured and being treated at area hospitals. The patrol team planned to hold a briefing on Saturday morning.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” said Mayor Todd Sharard. “I’m numb.”

Videos posted online show a dark funnel cloud rising out of a cloud as nervous drivers watch or slowly move away, unsure of its path.

Other videos showed extensive damage on the city’s main street. A building substantially collapsed and a Goodwill store was badly damaged. A broken utility pole lay by the side of the road, and debris, including electrical wires and parts of the Marathon gas station, was scattered across the road.

The Red Cross set up a shelter in a church.

Brandi Slow, 42, said she and a teenage daughter sought security in a Culver’s restroom. His windows were blown out as he left the fast food restaurant and his pickup truck was flipped onto its roof in the parking lot.

“We nodded in disbelief but are grateful to be safe. At that point, who cares about the truck,” Slough said.

Eddie Thrasher, 55, said he was sitting in his car outside an auto parts store when the tornado watched over him.

He said he ran to the store to get it out.

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

Extreme winds are unusual in this part of Michigan because the Great Lakes suck energy from storms, especially in the spring when the lakes are very cold, said Jim Keyser, a Gaylord-based meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“Many children and young adults would never have experienced any severe weather if they had lived in Gaylord their entire lives,” he said.

Keyser said the last time a strong thunderstorm hit Gaylord was in 1998, when straight winds reached 100 mph. He said the conditions that led to Friday’s twist included a cold front moving in from Wisconsin and hitting warm and humid air over Gaylord, the additional component of diverting winds into the lower part of the atmosphere.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for Otsego County, providing more state resources for the county.

Gaylord, known as “Alpine Village,” is set to celebrate its 100th birthday this year, with a centennial celebration that will include a parade and 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 in partnership with a sister city in Switzerland.

White reported from Detroit. Associated Press reporters Corey Williams in Detroit, Ken Kusmer in Indianapolis, Sarah Burnett in Chicago and Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis contributed.

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