SHIAWASSEE COUNTY (WJRT) (3/14/2019) - Dozens of homes were damaged in Shiawassee County by what the National Weather Service called a "large and extremely dangerous" tornado
The tornado touched down around 6:47 p.m. near Durand and Vernon. It traveled about 18 miles northeast through eastern Shiawassee County and northeast Genessee County, ending somewhere in Genesee Township.
The tornado lifted up and touched back down multiple times. Strong straight line winds also possibly caused damage as the storm moved along at a rapid pace.
The powerful winds ripped Great Lakes Fabrication and Machining on M-71 in Durand. About half of the building was flattened by the storm.
Rodger Hathaway, who works at the shop and considers it a second home, said nobody was inside when the storm hit and nobody was injured. He said sometimes workers are in the shop until 8 p.m., so he was relieved no one was injured or killed.
"Devastation, and I was just so glad that no one was inside," Hathaway said while surveying the damage.
Right across the street, three apartment buildings suffered serious damage. The roof got torn off one apartment building while trees and power lines were down all over the village.
Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole said more than 50 homes received damage in the county.
Shoreline Lake Condos on Tyrell Road was one of the worst hit areas. BeGole said that's where the tornado initially touched down.
Police, fire and EMS crews set up a grid to search the area for anyone injured and to assess the damage. BeGole asked everyone to stay home Thursday night and stay off the roads in areas with damage to allow emergency responders access.
He cautioned everyone to be very careful walking around damaged areas and stay far away from any downed power lines.
National Weather Service survey crews will be out along the storm path on Friday assessing the damage and determining the severity of the tornado.