Tornado strikes northern Michigan; damage yet unknown

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A tornado has struck Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula, flipping recreational vehicles in a small community, partially tearing the roof off at least one building and causing other damage

GAYLORD, Mich. — A tornado tore through a small community in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula on Friday, flipping vehicles, tearing the roofs off buildings and causing other damage.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths caused by the tornado that hit Gaylord, a community of roughly 4,200 people about 230 miles (370 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.

Eddie Thrasher, 55, said he was sitting in his car outside an auto parts store when the twister seemed to appear above him.

“There are roofs ripped off businesses, a row of industrial-type warehouses,” Thrasher said. “RVs were flipped upside down and destroyed. There were a lot of emergency vehicles heading from the east side of town.”

He said he ran into the store to ride it out.

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

Multiple homes were damaged and trees and powerlines were downed an blocking roads, the State Police said on Twitter. Images shared on social media showed multiple RVs shredded to pieces in a parking lot.

Mike Klepadlo, owner of Alter-Start North, a car repair shop, said he and his workers took cover in a bathroom.

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

Video posted on social media showed extensive damage along Gaylord’s Main Street. One building appeared to be largely collapsed and part of a Goodwill store was damaged. A collapsed utility pole lay on the side of the road, and debris, including what appeared to be electrical wires and parts of a Marathon gas station, was scattered all along the street.

Otsego Memorial Hospital said it had no comment yet about any injuries it might have treated.

Gaylord, known as the “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 holds the annual Alpenfest in July, an Alpine-inspired celebration honoring the city’s heritage and a partnership with a sister city in Switzerland.

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