Deadly tornado ‘picked up homes and turned them over on top of each other’

US News

Two people died and more than 40 others were injured after a tornado ripped through a US mobile home park.

The tornado struck Gaylord, a town of about 4,200 people, roughly 230 miles northwest of Detroit in Michigan on Friday.

In a region where tornadoes are rare, the National Weather Service said there had been winds of up to 140mph.

Fire chief Chris Martin said homes had been “picked up and turned over on top of each other”, leaving “just a very large debris field”.

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He added: “Crews are in there right now doing a secondary search with heavy equipment.

“There is probably 95% destruction in there.”

Initially police had reported one person had died but they have now confirmed a second person, who was in their 70s, had also died.

More on Michigan

The person, who was in their 70s, lived in the Nottingham mobile home park, which was among the first sites hit by the tornado on Friday, state police Lt Derrick Carroll said.

State governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for the county, making further state resources available for the extensive clear-up.

The remains of the Goodwill building on Saturday, May 21 after as an EF3 tornado ripped through M-32 on Friday in Gaylord. So far, two people are dead, and an additional 44 injured after the May 20 natural disaster, according to Michigan State Police. (Jake May | MLive.com)
Image:
The shattered remains of a charity shop. Pic: Associated Press

Gaylord Police chief Frank Claeys said the immediate moments after the tornado were tough for first responders.

“We were searching in places where we knew the occupants. We were calling them out by name,” he said. “It’s a lot more personal when our officers know the people who live in those homes.”

Extreme spring winds are uncommon in the area because the Great Lakes suck energy out of storms, especially early in the season when the lakes are very cold, said Jim Keysor, a Gaylord-based meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“Many kids and young adults would have never experienced any direct severe weather if they had lived in Gaylord their entire lives,” he said.

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