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Devastation after twister tears through Gaylord, killing 2 and injuring dozens

Gaylord Tornado
Gaylord Tornado
Gaylord Tornado
Gaylord Tornado
Gaylord Tornado
Gaylord Tornado
Posted at 4:44 PM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-21 15:57:57-04

GAYLORD, Mich. — A tornado touched down in Otsego County on Friday afternoon, leaving a devastating amount of damage to the community.

Michigan State Police hosted a press conference at 10 a.m. Saturday to provide an update on the situation.

Troopers say that as of 10 a.m. Saturday there had been two confirmed deaths and at least 44 people hospitalized.

They also said that a Missing Persons Hotline had been established for inquiries about missing people, and is only to be used to report missing persons in the Gaylord region. The number for the hotline is (989) 705-3780.


MSP provide an update on Friday's tornado in Gaylord that left two people dead and dozens injured

Gaylord Tornado

The main hospital in town is at full capacity. Any people needing treatment are being sent to hospitals in neighboring counties at least 30 minutes away.

The second victim was in their 70s and lived in a mobile home park, MSP Lt. Derrick Carroll said.

The Nottingham mobile home park, among the first sites hit by the tornado, had “95% destruction,” Otsego County Fire Chief Chris Martin said. "There have been trailers picked up and turned over on top of each other. Just a very large debris field. Crews are in there right now doing a secondary search with heavy equipment.”

The funnel cloud hammered Gaylord, a city of 4,200 located 230 miles northwest of Detroit, at about 3:45 p.m. Friday.

The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed the information with FOX 17, saying a “large” tornado touched down in the area of M-32 and Murner Road before passing through downtown Gaylord.

NWS reports significant damage was dealt to several businesses.

Gaylord Tornado

Michigan State Police says homes were damaged as well.

Because of the damage, police had to close certain roads throughout the city.

JUST IN: Gov. Whitmer declares state of emergency after Gaylord tornado

As of Friday evening, the city was placed under a mandatory curfew. State police say that is set to lift at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Gaylord severe storm
Courtesy Steve Sharp from Gaylord

Just after 10 p.m. Friday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for Otsego County.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer declares state of emergency for Otsego County
Credit: Michigan Executive Office of the Governor

"My heart goes out to the families and small businesses impacted by the tornado and severe weather in Gaylord.

"I have declared a state of emergency for Otsego County to rush resources to the affected areas and the State Emergency Operations Center has been activated to coordinate our state's response. Our state is grateful for the first responders and utility workers who are working hard to keep everyone safe.

NWS: Tornado touches down, passes through Gaylord

"Michiganders are tough. We are resilient. And there's no challenge we can't get through together," said Gov. Whitmer.

By declaring a state of emergency, the governor made all state resources available in cooperation with local response and recovery efforts in the designated area.

Deadly tornado hits Gaylord

The declaration authorizes Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division to coordinate state efforts above and beyond what they've already done alongside local agencies.

Those seeking shelter can visit E-Free Church in Gaylord at 1649 E. M-32, where the American Red Cross is providing assistance.

Severe Weather Ingredients

Sarah Fake of Gaylord spoke with WXYZ-TV after the tornado. She says she got home just in time to take cover.

“I had just gotten home and came inside and my mom asked if I closed the garage and we went to go close it and the wind just swooshed. It took two of us to close the door and we closed it and ran to the basement. And by less than a minute, it was over with,” she said.

Fake said it was just her and her mom home at the time. She said her dad and brother were at a Powerhouse Gym, where the windows broke and people hid in the sauna.

Fake said she did not hear tornado warning sirens until after the tornado was done as she walked outside to look at the damage.

“I was shocked. I thought nothing of a tornado warning,” Fake said. “All of the trees were snapped in half. The power line is down to the wire fence. We can’t let the dog out right now and the front yard, all the trees are gone. My mom’s tire was popped… and on the side of our house, we have damage.”

Otsego County also declared a local state of emergency, which activates local emergency response and recovery plans.

Egg-sized hail was also reported, described as two inches wide.

Courtesy Ross Gibbs

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