SHOCKING videos show flipped vehicles, damaged homes in Gaylord after deadly tornado hits Michigan town
Gov Gretchen Witmer said: 'To the entire Gaylord community -- Michigan is with you. We will do what it takes to rebuild'
A violent tornado moved through the town of Gaylord in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan on Friday, May 20, at around 3:48 pm. The tornado left one person dead and 40 injured and also caused severe destruction, according to Todd Sharrard, Gaylord Mayor. He further added that the tornado first hit in a mobile home park and continued in about a two to three-mile span through the commercial corridor seen in the video player above. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” said Sharrard. “A lot of the time, my drill has been going, and now it’s like, ‘here feel exhausted.’ I’m concerned about all of our citizens, all of the crew that’s trying to help clean everything up to," he further said.
At around the same time, large hail was reported to the west of Gaylord, including a 2-inch hail report in Elmira, Michigan, which is about 10 miles west of Gaylord. According to the National Weather Service, about 10 minutes later from 3.38 pm the tornado warning for Otsego County was updated to note a confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado, and was deemed an emergency situation. The last tornado to impact near Gaylord was in 2014, when two EF1 tornadoes carved a path about 15 miles south and southeast of the city, according to Tornado Archive. Gaylord has a population of 4,286 as of the 2020 census.
National Weather Service meteorologist Sean Christensen said the twister hit west of the city center near Interstate 75 and moved east-northeast. Several videos and photos of the destructive tornado surfaced on Twitter. Photos of the damage showed portions of roofs on homes torn off and trailers stacked on top of each other in a pile of rubble.
Frank McClellan who was dining at Taco Bell in Gaylord, witnessed the twister turn. He told WWJ news and radio how the twister ripped through a shopping center as well as an RV dealership. "I was sitting in the Taco Bell, right there on (M-32), and the funnel cloud came right down 32 and for some reason took a turn in the Taco Bell parking lot and hit all the buildings behind us and leveled a bunch of them," he said. "Somehow it did not hit us where we were sitting," he said. "...There were explosions coming our way, and then the next thing you know the funnel cloud is right in the parking lot," he said calling himself lucky. A Gaylord resident Brandon Smith posted a terrifying video of the tornado saying it "sounded like a freight train."
Prayers going out to everyone in and around Gaylord, MI after the tornado this afternoon 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/UeDSq9PSwm— Social Distancing in my Blind 🎯🌳🦌🦃🐿🌲 (@mgoblue85) May 20, 2022
At least one large building collapsed while several cars were flipped and damaged. An RV and mobile trailer park was also heavily damaged. More than 25,000 customers across northern Lower Michigan were without power by early Friday evening, but recovery is ongoing. As per the officials, the damage is substantial as the people injured have been transported to multiple hospitals after the emergency facility in Gaylord stopped accepting patients due to lack of power as it is running on emergency generators.
The Michigan Department of Transportation stated the tornado touched down near a Home Depot on the west end of Gaylord, and then moved east. The damage it caused saw debris strewn onto nearby roads, including M-32.
Following the tornado in Gaylord, I’ve declared a State of Emergency for Otsego County.— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) May 21, 2022
Michiganders are tough. We are resilient. We will do what it takes to rebuild. There’s no challenge we can’t get through together. pic.twitter.com/ulOp2GgZfc
Lt. Jim Gorno of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources described the scene in the area as being "catastrophic," with cars flipped over and structures destroyed. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer arrived in Gaylord on Friday, May 20, night and put in an emergency declaration. "My heart goes out to the families and small businesses impacted by the tornado and severe weather in Gaylord. To the entire Gaylord community—Michigan is with you. We will do what it takes to rebuild," she tweeted.
My heart goes out to the families and small businesses impacted by the tornado and severe weather in Gaylord. To the entire Gaylord community—Michigan is with you. We will do what it takes to rebuild.— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) May 20, 2022
@mspnorthernmi and other first responders are on site to assist residents. We’re grateful to the police officers, firefighters, EMTs, utility workers, and so many others responding on the ground.— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) May 20, 2022
According to the State of Michigan, on average Michigan has 15 tornadoes per year and the average lead time for a tornado warning is 10 to 15 minutes and winds reach over 200 mph.