At least 23 people were injured and at least one died when the hurricane hit a town in northern Michigan, officials said. Munson Healthcare spokesman Brian Lawson said Friday he had no details about the circumstances of the people killed or injured by the hurricane as it passed through the city of Gaylord, about 230 miles northwest of Detroit. 45 pm
The pace of people brought to Gaylord-Otsego Memorial Hospital has slowed since the hours immediately after the storm, Lawson said.
“From what I gather, things have stabilized a bit,” he said.
The rare tornado pierced through the community on Friday, overturning vehicles, tearing off the roofs of buildings and causing other damage.
Eddie Thrasher, 55, said he was sitting in his car in front of an auto parts store when the tornado appeared over it.
“There are businesses with torn roofs, a number of industrial-type warehouses,” Thrasher said. “Caravans were overturned and destroyed. There were multiple emergency vehicles coming from the east of town.”
He said he ran to the store to drive the car.
“My adrenaline was running like crazy,” Thrasher said. “It’s over in less than five minutes.”
Officials said the hurricane damaged many homes and knocked down trees and power lines blocking roads. Footage shared on social media showed multiple recreational vehicles dismembered in a parking lot.
Mike Klepadlo, owner of Alter-Start North, a car mechanic, said he and his staff were hiding in a bathroom.
“Luckily I’m alive. He blew up the back of the building,” he said. “Twenty meters of the back wall is gone. The whole roof is missing. At least half of the building is still here. Bad.”
Video posted on social media showed extensive damage along Gaylord’s Main Street. A building collapsed heavily and a Goodwill store was badly damaged. There was a collapsed utility pole on the side of the road, and debris was scattered all over the street, including power cables and what appeared to be parts of a Marathon gas station.
Spokesman Brian Lawson said Otsego Memorial Hospital was undamaged but was running on generator power.
He said he did not know how many injured people were being treated at the hospital. Meanwhile, the Red Cross was taking shelter in a church.
Jim Keysor, a meteorologist with the Gaylord-based National Weather Service, said extreme winds are rare in this part of Michigan because the Great Lakes absorb energy from storms, especially in early spring, when the lakes are very cold.
“Many children and young adults would not experience any direct severe weather if they had lived in Gaylord their entire lives,” he said.
Keysor said Gaylord’s most recent severe wind storm was in 1998 when flat winds reached 100 mph.
Brandie Slough, 42, said she and her teenage daughter sought safety in a Culver’s bathroom. When they got out, the windows of the fast food restaurant were smashed and his pickup truck had crashed onto its roof in the parking lot.
“We shook our heads in disbelief, but we’re grateful we’re safe. Who cares about the truck at that point,” Slough said.
Known as the “Alpine Village,” Gaylord is gearing up to celebrate its 100th birthday this summer with a centennial celebration that will include a parade and open-air parade at City Hall later this summer.
The community also holds the annual Alpenfest, an Alpen-inspired celebration in July honoring the city’s heritage and partnering with a sister city in Switzerland.