2 killed, 44 injured after tornado tore through Gaylord mobile home park and business district

UPDATE: Gaylord tornado rated an EF3 with 140 mph winds by National Weather Service

GAYLORD, MI – At least two people are dead and 44 injured after a Friday tornado tore through Gaylord.

A second victim was found early in the morning Saturday, May 21 in the Nottingham Forest Mobile Home Park increasing the death toll for the rare northern Michigan tornado.

“Yesterday afternoon, we were faced with a natural disaster that continues to affect the region. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone, especially the families of the injured and deceased,” said Michigan State Police Lt. Derrick Carroll during a Saturday, May 21 press conference at Kirtland Community College.

Both the victims, who are in their 70s, were found in the mobile home park near where the tornado first touched down. Ostego County Fire Chief Chris Martin said there was “95% destruction” in the mobile home park.

“There have been trailers picked up and turned on top of each other and just a very large debris field from the trailer,” Martin said.

Related: Gov. Whitmer, in Gaylord, declares state of emergency after deadly tornado rips through community

At least one person is still unaccounted for, and officials have set up a hotline for missing persons.

The 44 injured persons were brought to four area hospitals with 23 at Otsego Memorial Hospital, 12 at Grayling Hospital, eight at McLaren Northern Michigan Petoskey and one at Munson Medical Center Traverse City. Officials did not disclose the extent of their injuries.

The National Weather Service issued a thunderstorm warning for Otsego County at 3:24 pm on Friday. This was upgraded to a tornado warning at 3:38 pm, prompting code red alerts to be sent out to all cell phones in the region, and the tornado hit the ground 10 minutes later.

Gaylord, a community that rarely sees tornadoes, does not have a tornado siren.

“The tornado touched down west of Gaylord in the Nottingham Mobile Home Park located on M32 just west of Meecher Road,” Carroll said. “The tornado continued along the M32 in the business area, causing extensive damage to businesses, vehicles and homes along the way.”

Related: Gaylord’s deadly tornado spawned from supercell storm that created baseball-sized hail

A roof was torn off a clothing store and walls knocked down at Jimmy John’s restaurant. Half a Goodwill store was destroyed. And cars were flipped over as the tornado flattened light posts and shattered glass on M32.

“Power lines and trees were blocking major roadways and neighborhood streets. Power was lost to most of the city and surrounding area. There were numerous reports of gas leaks and 911 calls for injuries,” Carroll said.

A curfew will be in effect again Saturday night as cleanup efforts continue. It was previously for 7 pm but police are now only saying after dark. About 100 Consumers Energy crews have been dispatched to the region to repair downed utility poles and damaged power lines.

“Stay at home and shelter in place tonight once it gets dark, because the area is not safe,” Carroll said. “We’re in the process of stabilizing it, so there’s still a lot of hazards out there.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency late Friday night unlocking state resources to assist in the cleanup efforts.

Officials have set up a storm command center at Kirtland Community College. And E-Free Church, 1649 E. M-32, is providing shelter for displaced residents.

More on MLive:

Deadly tornado that struck Gaylord was a rare storm

Drone video of the supercell storm that spawned Gaylord, Michigan tornado

Gaylord’s tornado aftermath: Blocked roads, a curfew and so much debris

More coverage of Gaylord tornado

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