Heavy tornado and wind damage reported in Shiawassee and Genesee counties
(3/14/2019) - A powerful tornado caused significant damage in Shiawassee and Genesee counties Thursday evening.
The tornado touched down in the Durand and Vernon areas of Shiawassee County around 6:45 p.m. It moved rapidly northeast in Genesee County.
Heavy damage was reported in Vernon Township around the intersection of Reid and Bennington roads. There were also dozens of damage reports into Clayton Township, Flushing, Flint Township and Genesee Township.
Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole said the tornado touched down in the area of Shoreline Lakes Condo Association on Tyrell Road and proceeded northeast.
He said more than 50 structures in the county sustained damage. No serious injuries or deaths were reported to authorities, however.
"I'm feeling good that nobody has reported being hurt or killed," BeGole said.
The sheriff's office set up a command post with other police, fire department and EMS resources to coordinate the response. Authorities were conducting a grid search through the east side of the county to survey damage and look for anyone in distress.
"We are searching to make sure there is nobody else that is injured or hurt out there at this time," BeGole said.
He said numerous roads were blocked with trees and power lines.
Great Lakes Fabrication and Machining in Durand suffered heavy damage. Rodger Hathaway said about half of the building was destroyed, but nobody was inside when the tornado hit and no injuries were reported.
Heavy tree damage was seen, along with debris hanging from tree branches.
The Bancroft area in Shiawassee County also was hard hit. A barn was completely flattened and numerous trees were knocked down as the tornado moved through.
"It sounded like a train going right by you and all of a sudden pieces were getting ripped off it," said Tanner Frederic, who took refuge in the barn. "It was a scary moment."
Everyone in the barn escaped safely.
As the storm continued moving northeast, it slammed into the Camelot Villas mobile home community in Genesee Township. Assistant Fire Chief Don Fremd said at least 10 to 15 trailers sustained heavy damage, including some that lost their roofs.
Trees were blown down throughout the park and some trailers got blown off their foundations. An elderly couple lost their home after its roof got ripped off.
No injuries reported within the park, however. The residents who were displaced from their residences are being allowed to stay in the park's clubhouse for Thursday night.
The National Weather Service reported a barn in the Flushing area got completely flattened and several structures had significant roof damage.
Police and fire crews are asking people to stay off the roads in the areas that sustained damage. Firefighters, utility crews, public works crews and police need space to continue relief efforts.
Power lines were knocked down all over Shiawassee and Genesee counties.
More than 6,100 Consumers Energy customers in Shiawassee County lost power while more than 1,700 customers lost power in Genesee County. Smaller outages were reported in Clinton and Saginaw counties.