Tornadoes, Grapefruit-Sized Hail Rip Through Southwest Michigan; Whitmer Declares State of Emergency

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared a state of emergency for Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, Branch, and Cass counties following a string of severe storm systems that ripped through the southwestern part of the state on Tuesday, May 7. The storms produced some unusual weather phenomenon, even for Michigan, including large hail up to four inches in diameter and at least two confirmed tornadoes, which swept through the area leaving significant damage to buildings and roads.

Early reports indicate that one twister tore through a mobile home park, leaving a dozen people injuries, with more injuries suspected. Additionally, as of approximately 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night, more than 50 people were trapped inside of a Portage, Michigan FedEx facility, as the roof was ripped off part of the building, making it unable to vacate.

“My heart goes out to all those impacted by tonight’s severe weather in southwest Michigan,” said Whitmer. “State and local emergency teams are on the ground and working together to assist Michiganders. I’ve declared a state of emergency to ensure resources are expedited to the area and activated our State Emergency Operations Center. We will continue monitoring the situation and coordinating efforts overnight. I want to thank all the first responders working hard to keep Michiganders safe. We’ll get through this together.”

By declaring a state of emergency, Whitmer has made all state resources available in cooperation with local response and recovery efforts in the designated area. The declaration authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management, and Homeland Security Division to coordinate state efforts above and beyond what MSP/EMHSD has already been doing in conjunction with local agencies.

“My heart goes out to all of the residents, business owners and communities in Kalamazoo County and the surrounding areas impacted by tonight’s tornadoes,” said state Senator Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo). “I appreciate the swift work of our first responders, volunteers and neighbors to help those who were injured or experienced damages and am grateful for the governor’s equally swift response to declare an emergency in the area and dedicate state support to assist with cleanup and repairs.”

“This evening our community has been directly impacted by the severe storm that moved through Southwest Michigan,” said state Representative Christine Morse (D-Texas Township). “The health and safety of family, friends and residents always comes first, and I can assure our community members that our local emergency responders are at work to ensure that anyone who needs assistance will get it. Along with my local and state partners we will continue to survey the damage and step in swiftly when and where needed. Daybreak will reveal the level of devastation, and I will be at-the-ready for every possible way to bring immediate relief to those affected. My office is available to help find resources and support families in need during this unexpected crisis.”

The National Weather Service radar confirmed the storm system resulted in multiple tornadoes touching down in the affected areas. There is widespread damage, including homes and businesses that were destroyed, trees and power lines blocking roads, and extensive property damage.

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