Severe Weekend Storms Damage Homes in Michigan, Iowa

July 9, 2014

A severe thunderstorm packing winds estimated at more than 80 mph injured several people and caused significant damage to homes in western Michigan, prompting flooding Monday, and storms that spawned tornadoes damaged some homes in Iowa.

A Michigan thunderstorm intensified late Sunday over Kentwood, just south of Grand Rapids. The National Weather Service said it’s possible a tornado touched down briefly between 10:20 and 10:30 p.m. National Weather Service crews were surveying the area 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.

The weather service received reports that a couple of buildings had partially collapsed and that the storm downed numerous trees and power lines. Several recreational vehicles were knocked over at a dealer’s lot. Residents of Leisure Acres condominium complex were among those displaced.

In Iowa, several tornadoes were reported and at least two homes were damaged after a line of severe storms passed through central Iowa. The same possible tornado tracked through both Grundy and Tama counties, the weather service said, with a separate storm hitting Jasper County.

In North Dakota, weekend storms caused heavy damage at a Missouri River recreation area south of Bismarck and injured people at a lake southwest of the city. Several tents, campers and vehicles were destroyed by strong winds and falling trees at Kimball Bottoms on Saturday night.

In Michigan, 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.”

Kent County emergency management coordinator Jack Stewart told WOOD-TV that six people were injured, but that the severity of their injuries was unknown. The weather service said two people were taken to the hospital.

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

A roof collapsed at Pizzazz Banquet Center, but no one was seriously injured inside _ including workers cleaning up from a party, The Grand Rapids Press reported. Wooden roof beams are exposed and a front wall is heavily damaged at the strip mall where it’s located.

Flash flood warnings were canceled Monday for a number of western and central Michigan counties after more storms moved through the state. Flood warnings were in effect until Tuesday morning in Gratiot, Ionia and Montcalm counties, where some roads were washed out, the weather service said.

“The heavy rain is gone. We’re actually turning sunny,” said Brian Meade, a meteorologist in Grand Rapids. “There’s not really a flash flood threat, but you’ve got your lingering flooding and rain runoff.”

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 opened a shelter at Kentwood Community Center for those without power or otherwise displaced from their homes. More than 60 people took refuge at the center, officials said.

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 is fully restored.

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