Severe storms damage homes near Grand Rapids

Severe storms damage homes near Grand Rapids

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A severe thunderstorm packing winds estimated at more than 80 mph caused significant damage to homes in a western Michigan community and injured several people as officials warned of possible flash flooding due to heavy bursts of rain, authorities said.

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, with most of the damage taking place between 10:20 and 10:30 p.m. Weather service crews planned to survey damage 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 morning.

The weather service office received reports of numerous downed trees and power lines as well as a couple of buildings at least partially collapsed. A trained weather spotter reported a number of recreational vehicles were knocked over at a dealer's lot.

Kent County emergency management coordinator Jack Stewart told WOOD-TV that six people sustained injuries, though the severity of those injuries was unknown. The weather service said two injured people required hospitalization, but the injuries weren't considered severe.

The Associated Press sent a message seeking updated information from Stewart on Monday morning.

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."

A roof collapsed at Pizzazz Banquet Center, which was hosting a party, The Grand Rapids Press reported, but no serious injuries were reported.

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 was opening a shelter at Kentwood Community Center for those without power or affected by storm damage.

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 would be fully restored.


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