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Tornadoes Confirmed in Michigan, Ohio After Storms Leave at Least 5 Dead

Multiple tornadoes touched down in Michigan and Ohio as part of severe storms powered by winds of up to 75 mph that downed trees, tore roofs off buildings and killed five people. The storms also left hundreds of thousands of customers without power, officials said.

The National Weather Service on Friday confirmed that an EF-1 tornado with winds of 90 mph crossed from Ingham County into the western edge of adjacent Livingston County late Thursday night. 

The Ingham County Sheriff’s Office said that one person was confirmed dead and several people severely injured, and more than 25 vehicles were severely damaged along Interstate 96.  

Preliminary information shows that after entering Livingston County, the tornado remained on the ground for a mile or less before “weakening and lifting,” said Dave Gurney, a meteorologist with the weather service’s office in Oakland County’s White Lake Township.

In Lansing, the state capital, which is located in Ingham County, an 84-year-old woman died Thursday night after a tree fell on her home, Lansing Police Department spokesperson Jordan Gulkis said. Firefighters were able to take out the woman, but she was pronounced dead at a hospital.    

Another tornado was confirmed to have touched down west of Belleville, the NWS said. The tornado hit near or just south of the Wagner Homestead Farm and mainly blew off leaves and twigs, but then felled numerous trees further along its path. The tornado traveled around three miles before dissipating, the National Weather Service said. 

In western Michigan, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office said a 21-year-old woman and two girls, ages 1 and 3, died Thursday night after two vehicles collided head-on as it was raining.

“There was two vehicles traveling toward each other. One hydroplaned on water and it was occupied by four people,” Sgt. Eric Brunner told WZZM-TV.

The sheriff’s office said a 22-year-old Gowen man who was driving the car carrying the Gowen woman and two girls was seriously injured in the crash, which occurred when his car struck an SUV. That vehicle’s driver suffered minor injuries.

Trees were uprooted, and some roofs collapsed. Many roads were closed due to trees and power lines that had fallen. 

As the storm moved south overnight, it spawned at least four tornadoes in Ohio, one of which destroyed the roof of a church in Cleveland.

About 338,000 customers in Michigan and about 107,000 in Ohio were without power as of Friday night, according to the Poweroutage.us website.

Sandy Dubanik was sleeping when the storm tore through her home in the community of Newport near Detroit.

“The tree branch that was on my porch came through my window, glass everywhere,” Dubanik told CBS News. 

In the north Detroit suburb of Southfield in Oakland County, Muqitu Berry said he was in his ranch home at about 9:30 p.m. Thursday when a large part of the trunk of a neighbor’s tree came crashing down, “like a train coming through.”

The tree ended up across the front of Berry’s driveway and yard and took down power lines, dropping them onto his driveway and at least one vehicle, leaving Berry and his neighbors without power.

“I can’t get out of my driveway. I can’t go anywhere,” Berry said Friday morning. “We’re out of power, and it’s very frustrating.”

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans declared a state of emergency Friday in Michigan’s largest county, which includes Detroit, due to power outages, flooding, fallen trees and power lines and storm debris.

The county also warned residents to avoid any contact with several rivers after flooding caused municipalities to discharge partially or fully untreated wastewater into various waterways.

In Macomb County, northeast of Detroit, several thousand basements in Eastpointe and St. Clair Shores were spared flooding when stormwater and wastewater were discharged to Lake St. Clair through an emergency bypass system, Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said. The bypass has been used only three times since 2017 but twice this week.

“Apparently, these storms have become our new normal,” Miller said. “This has been like a tropical storm, and both government and residents will need to make appropriate preparations whenever possible.”

Canton Township, a community of some 100,000 west of Detroit, was hit earlier this week by flooding in its downtown business district. Then Thursday night’s storms produced what are believed to be “two at least heavy wind shears, if not tornadoes,” said township supervisor Anne Marie Graham-Hudak.

“Some of our parks are destroyed,” she said, adding that the township received calls from 200 residents regarding flooding in their basements.

Part of the roof collapsed and shingles were ripped off an adult foster care facility near Williamston, in Ingham County.

The storm Thursday night followed a round of heavy rain Wednesday that left areas in southeast Michigan with over 5 inches of rain by Thursday morning, resulting in street flooding in the Detroit area, including tunnels leading to Detroit Metropolitan Airport in the suburb of Romulus, officials said. Officials reopened the airport’s McNamara Terminal on Thursday afternoon. 

Severe storms developed in the western part of the state Thursday afternoon.

“Once I felt that sucking, I could just feel the power of it, and I could feel it all shaking, I could feel the roof shaking and coming apart,” James Gale, a caretaker of 14 people told WXYZ-TV. He said the ceiling was gone from one woman’s room and she was taken to a hospital. Others were taken by buses to another facility.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer activated the State Emergency Operations Center on Thursday evening to provide support to affected communities “as they respond to the impacts of flooding.”

Parts of the western United States have been deluged in recent weeks with rain from Tropical Storm Hilary, and much of the central U.S. was beaten down by deadly sweltering heat. In Hawaii and Washington, emergency crews battled catastrophic wildfires.

Source : CBS News