Videos show devastation of first tornado ever to impact Gaylord, Michigan
National Weather Service meteorologists will survey the damage to determine the exact strength of the tornado
GAYLORD, Mich. – A tornado that devastated parts of the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan left businesses and homes damaged and had leaders pledging the town would rebuild.
The National Weather Service Office in Gaylord, Michigan, started receiving reports of a tornado just after 3:30 p.m. on Friday.
The twister is thought to have first touched down near Elmira and went on to move through Gaylord, which is home to around 4,000 people.
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Video from the heart of the town, West Main Street, showed significant damage to businesses, vehicles and other infrastructure in the tornado's path.
A resident took video of the twister ripping off parts of roofs and tossing debris.
"Gaylord has never taken a direct hit from a tornado," Jim Keysor, National Weather Service meteorologist, said. "We heard stories of people climbing into freezers or jumping into buildings. At a quick lube place, people working jumped into the pit as the storm came across and damaged the building."
Drone video of the aftermath of the destruction showed vehicles flipped and buildings that suffered significant damage.
"This is a very, very rare event for us. And most people that have lived here their whole lives – they’ve never experienced a tornado in Gaylord," Keysor said.
Michigan State Police said at least 44 people were injured, and two people killed by the rare tornado for the state.
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On Saturday, NWS meteorologists rated the tornado an EF-3 and said it likely had winds of around 150 mph.
Authorities have not said have not said how many structures have been damaged or destroyed, but the tally is expected to be significant.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer pledged to do whatever it takes to rebuild the usually quiet community.