(WXYZ) — At least two people have died and 44 others were injured after a tornado touched down in Otsego County on Friday, Michigan State Police said.
Watch the latest press conference with officials below:
The National Weather Service confirmed the tornado traveled through Gaylord just before 4 p.m. Officials say they believe the tornado was on the ground for 26 minutes and traveled through town in about three minutes.
On Saturday, NWS rated the tornado an EF3 and said it had max winds of 140 mph.
There are no tornado sirens in the city of Gaylord, but officials said code red alerts are sent through to cell phones when alerts are issued from the NWS. Officials said a warning went out about 10 minutes before the tornado touched down.
The first death was reported Friday evening. A second death was reported Saturday at 1 a.m. Both of the deceased victims are believed to have been at Nottingham Forest Mobile Home Park at the time of the tornado. The mobile home park was heavily hit and is estimated to be 95% destroyed.
The injured were reportedly taken to several area hospitals, including Grayling Hospital, McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey and Munson Medical Center in Traverse City.
DEVELOPING: People living in Gaylord are waking up to a lot of damage from a deadly tornado that spent more than 20 minutes on the ground. Some have lost homes and businesses. Police are assisting with safety protocols during cleanup. @wxyzdetroit #6PM pic.twitter.com/ZexAQW1Jui— Simon Shaykhet WXYZ (@simonshaykhet) May 21, 2022
Additional details about the person killed and those injured are unclear at this time. Officials say crews are now conducting a secondary search of the affected area.
MSP says several homes and businesses are damaged and that trees and power lines are blocking roads. Thousand are without power. People are being advised to avoid the area and residents have been asked to shelter in place.
I-75 reduced to one lane in each direction as crews clean the area.
The city of Gaylord issued a curfew at 7 p.m. Friday. It lifted at 8 a.m Saturday. Another curfew will be issued the same time Saturday evening.
A missing persons hotline has been set up for Gaylord: (989) 705-3780.
Those seeking shelter can visit E-Free Church in Gaylord at 1649 E. M-32, where the American Red Cross is providing assistance.
Photo Courtesy Steve Sharp
Photos and video from Gaylord posted on social media give a glimpse at some of the extensive damage.
Related: PHOTOS: DAMAGE REPORTED IN GAYLORD AFTER TORNADO TOUCHES DOWN
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency while at the emergency operations center in Gaylord on Friday, and Otsego County has declared a local state of emergency.
Whitmer released the following statement:
“My heart goes out to the families and small businesses impacted by the tornado and severe weather in Gaylord,” said Governor Whitmer. “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. Michiganders are tough. We are resilient. And there’s no challenge we can’t get through together.”
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and Michigan State Police held a press conference Saturday evening to provide an update on recovery efforts.
That conference can be watched below:
Sarah Fake of Gaylord spoke with 7 Action News 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.
Photo Courtesy Lindsay Michelle
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.
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“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.”
She said an area near her home is blocked off due to a downed tree and power line. She said no one in her family was injured.
Other Michigan lawmakers have also released statements following the tornado in Gaylord:
Sen. Jim Stamas
“I want to thank our brave first responders, our local police officers and firefighters, as well as the Michigan State Police Troopers who have stepped up to keep people safe,” said Sen. Jim Stamas. “It is crucial for people to stay inside if possible and stay away from any downed power lines or debris. Let’s all hug our families a little tighter, and let’s all work together to rebuild and recover from this storm together.”
Rep. Ken Borton
“The tornado damage in Gaylord is absolutely devastating. Brenda and I are praying for all our Gaylord neighbors,” said Rep. Ken Borton. “ We especially pray for anyone who lost a friend or a family member – they have our deepest sympathies. We also pray for a speedy recovery for the injured. Police, first responders, and medical professionals in our community are working extra hard today, and we thank them for their work getting people to safety and treating the wounded.”