Michigan State Police are telling people outside the area to stay away from the Gelard area, which the National Weather Service confirmed was hit by a tornado on Friday afternoon.
Multiple homes and businesses were damaged in the area, police said in a Twitter update. They are in the area with the local authorities.
Shawn Christensen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said: “It just came down at 3:45 and went right through town.”
Ambulances were rushing the injured to the hospital, though no deaths have been confirmed, state police said.
‘Avoid the Gaylord area’ Michigan State Police say after tornado touchdown
A community of about 4,200 people, about 230 miles northwest of Detroit, was hit by a tornado in Gelard. Michigan State Police announced an overnight curfew and asked residents to take refuge Friday night.
The roof of a hobby lobby was torn down, and the town was very empty on Friday night. Traffic lights have stopped working and emergency vehicles are in the vicinity.
The residents of Gaylard were walking around in amazement.
Severe weather is unusual in this region.
Jim Kisser, a Gelard-based meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says strong winds are unusual in that part of Michigan because the Great Lakes absorb energy from storms, especially in early spring when the lakes are very cold.
At 3:38 a.m. Friday, the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Gelard, Michigan, issued a tornado warning for Antrim and Ostego County. Exactly 3 minutes later at 3:41 that tornado will be observed on the ground and will move towards the city.
National Meteorological Service staff will also monitor the tornado later and “there are reports of heavy damage around Gaylard.”
“If many children and young adults had lived in Gelard all their lives, they would never have experienced severe weather directly,” he said.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a tweet that her heart goes out to the families and businesses affected by the tornado.
“To the whole Gelard community – Michigan is with you,” he said. “We will do whatever it takes to rebuild.”
Eddie Thrasher, 55, said he was sitting in his car outside an auto parts store when the twister appeared on top of him.
“The roof of the business is cracked, a row of industrial-type warehouses,” Thrasher said. “The RVs overturned and were destroyed. Many emergency vehicles were moving east of the city.”
He said he rushed to the store to get it out.
“My adrenaline was going crazy,” Thrasher said. “It’s over in less than five minutes.”
State police said on Twitter that multiple homes were damaged and trees, and the powerline went down and blocked the road. Photos shared on social media showed multiple RVs shattered in a parking lot.
Mike Clapadlo, owner of the car repair shop Alter-Start North, said he and his staff took cover in a bathroom.
“I’m lucky I’m alive. It blew up the back of the building,” he said. “Twenty feet of the back wall are gone. The whole roof is lost. At least half the building is still there. It’s bad.”
The video, posted on social media, shows extensive damage along Gaylord’s Main Street.
A building has collapsed en masse and a goodwill store appears to have been badly damaged. A collapsed utility pole lay on the side of the road, and debris, including parts of an electric wire and a marathon gas station, were strewn all over the street.
Otsego Memorial Hospital said it had no comment on the treatment of the injured. The Red Cross was setting up a shelter in a church.
Brandi Slaf, 42, said she and her teenage daughter sought safety in a Calvary restroom. The windows of the fast food restaurant were blown out when they appeared, and his pickup truck overturned on the roof of the parking lot.