KENTWOOD, Mich. (AP) — A severe thunderstorm packing winds estimated at more than 80 mph injured several people and caused significant damage to homes in western Michigan, as officials warned of flash flooding Monday due to heavy rain.
The thunderstorm intensified late Sunday over Kentwood, just south of Grand Rapids. The National Weather Service says it’s possible a tornado touched down briefly between 10:20 and 10:30 p.m. National Weather Service crews were surveying the area Monday to determine whether a tornado hit.
“They were pretty fast-moving storms,” T.J. Turnage, a Grand Rapids-based weather service meteorologist, said Monday.
The weather service received reports that a couple of buildings had partially collapsed and that the storm downed numerous trees and power lines. Several recreational vehicles were knocked over at a dealer’s lot. Residents of Leisure Acres condominium complex were among those displaced.
“Our crews are out clearing streets, clearing paths,” said Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley. “They’ve been going all night at this.”
Jan Collins told The Grand Rapids Press that she heard the wind blow and then, an enormous boom as a tree toppled onto her family’s garage.
“There was this rumbling sound, and it was raining especially hard, before the wind came out of nowhere,” Collins said. “I think the car will be OK — the tree kind of just rested on top.”
Kent County emergency management coordinator Jack Stewart told WOOD-TV that six people were injured, but that the severity of their injuries was unknown. The weather service said two people were taken to the hospital.
The Associated Press sent a message seeking updated information from Stewart on Monday morning.
A roof collapsed at Pizzazz Banquet Center, but no one was seriously injured inside — including workers cleaning up from a party, The Grand Rapids Press reported. Wooden roof beams are exposed and a front wall is heavily damaged at the strip mall where it’s located.
“You don’t expect things like this,” said Phil Wilcher, who owns the strip mall that also houses other businesses including a deli and women’s clothing store.
Flash flood warnings were in effect Monday for a number of western and central Michigan counties as more storms moved through the state. The Weather Service had received reports of flooding in Alma, in Gratiot County, with 6-8 inches of standing water reported in one spot.
The American Red Cross opened a shelter at Kentwood Community Center for those without power or otherwise displaced from their homes.
CMS Energy Corp.’s Consumers Energy unit said Monday morning that roughly 20,000 of its customers lost power. About 9,600 of those homes and businesses are in Kent County, including Kentwood. The utility said it could be late Tuesday before power is fully restored.
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