Michigan tornadoes trap workers in FedEx building, wipe out mobile home park

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Severe weather that has been uprooting Plains states for weeks turned its attention to Michigan on Tuesday, trapping workers and wiping out a mobile home park, officials said.

Portage Mayor Patricia M. Randall said in a statement that her city was struck by two tornadoes Tuesday, with no reports of injuries or death so far.

One of the vortexes ripped off the side of a massive FedEx facility, trapping about 50 workers as first responders hoped to clear live electrical wires blocking their safe exit, Kalamazoo County spokesperson Taylor Koopman said by email.

“The FedEx building in Portage sustained significant damage and is still an active scene,” she said.

tornado aftermath damage
People look at a damaged FedEx facility in Portage, Mich., on Tuesday.Courtesy Jim Morrison

A tornado destroyed entire residences at Pavilion Estates Mobile Home Park in Kalamazoo County, Koopman said. Rescue crews were on-site searching for survivors and those in need of temporary shelter, which was set up at Portage Senior Center, she said.

Residents were urged to stay put as first responders sort out the situation.

“We have multiple scenes across the County and heavy damage,” Koopman said. “There are several reports of power outages, wires down, and debris in the roadways. We ask that folks stay off the road if they’re able.”

More than 32,000 utility customers in Michigan were without power Tuesday night, according to utility tracker PowerOutage.us.

Imagery of a strip mall barber shop in Portage showed its front ripped away to reveal its interior.

“Due to downed power lines and trees and possible gas leaks we are urging residents to stay in their homes so first responders can reach those who need assistance,” Randall said.

The National Weather Service issued a rare tornado emergency statement Tuesday afternoon for an area, including Union City, southwest of Portage.

A weather service meteorologist said one tornado and most likely one or two others had all but been confirmed Tuesday night, even as the service customarily waits until the next day to send trained crews to the sites of possible tornadoes for confirmation.

The severe weather since mid-April is the result of waves of cool low-pressure storms moving east from the Pacific Northwest and clashing with the warmer climes of states near the Gulf Coast. The colliding air has produced unsettled weather ripe for tornadoes, flooding and hail.

There were 19 reported tornadoes in at least seven states Monday.

The National Weather Service said heavy weather, including possible thunderstorms and flash floods, was in store for many of the same regions for the next couple of days.

An estimated 53 million people from northeast Texas to Virginia will be in the risk area for severe storms Thursday.

Portage is about 142 miles west of Detroit.





Read More: Michigan tornadoes trap workers in FedEx building, wipe out mobile home park

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