State of Emergency declared after tornado in Gaylord kills at least 1, hospitalizes 44

‘We will do what it takes to rebuild’
Vehicles, debris strewn across Gaylord following tornado touchdown
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 5:20 PM EDT|Updated: May. 20, 2022 at 10:12 PM EDT
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OTSEGO COUNTY, Mich. (WILX) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a State of Emergency for Otsego County after multiple homes and businesses in Gaylord were damaged by a large tornado Friday.

“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,” Whitmer said. “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.”

The declaration authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division to coordinate state efforts above and beyond what they had already been doing in conjunction with local agencies.

Just before 4 p.m., a tornado touched down in Gaylord, injuring dozens and killing at least one person. The National Weather Service described it as a “large and extremely dangerous” tornado.

Brian Lawson, a spokesman for Munson Healthcare, said Gaylord-Otsego Memorial Hospital was treating 23 people were injured by the tornado and that one person was killed. Police said there were 12 injured at Grayling Hospital, eight at McLaren Northern Michigan Petoskey and one at Munson Medical Center Traverse City.

Michigan State Police said multiple roads have been blocked off due to fallen trees and powerlines. Heavy damage has been reported throughout the area and much of Gaylord is without power.

The City of Gaylord asked residents to shelter in place and imposed a 7 p.m. curfew. Police said it will be lifted at 8 a.m. Saturday.

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, the tornado touched down on the west side of Gaylord and moved east, scattering debris onto roads.

Northbound and southbound I-75 exits to M-32 have been closed due to debris.

Severe weather was expected Friday across nearly all of Michigan.

Both MDOT and MSP are urging people to avoid the Gaylord area to give emergency crews room to work.

Police said multiple people have been transported to nearby hospitals and a shelter has been established at the E-Free Church on M-32. The American Red Cross will be setting up there as well.

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