Gaylord, Mich. ( Associated Press) – A second person was killed in the tornado which struck northern Michigan, officials reported Saturday, as crews searched a mobile home park that had been nearly destroyed by a rare weather event.
State Police Lieutenant Derrick Carroll said the man, who was in his 70s, lived at Nottingham Mobile Home Park, one of the first sites hit by the tornado on Friday.
“The trailers are lifted and turned over on top of each other. Just a huge debris field,” said Chris Martin, Otsego County fire chief. “The crew is currently conducting secondary searches with heavy equipment.”
He added that “probably 95% destruction there.”
The tornado struck Gaylord, a city of about 4,200 people that is about 230 miles (370 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.
More than 40 people were injured.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for the county, making more state resources available.
Gaylord Police Chief Frank Cleese said the moments immediately after the tornado were difficult for first responders.
“We were searching places where we knew the occupants. We were calling them by name,” Claes said. “It gets a lot more personal when our officers know the people who live in those homes.”
Extreme spring winds are unusual in the region because the Great Lakes suck energy from storms, especially early in the season 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.