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Storms Sock SE Michigan

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The National Weather Service confirmed Monday that a tornado hit an eastern Michigan campground, leaving in its wake one person dead, four injured and massive damage.

Meteorologist with the NWS White Lake Township office, Steve Freitag, said Monday the tornado hit the Fort Trodd Family Campground in St. Clair County just after 7p.m. Sunday evening. The storm overturned trailers and cast debris across the grounds.

He added that despite the damage, the tornado was relatively weak with wind gusts of 95 mph.

James Anderson, 75, of Mount Clemens was killed, said Sheriff Tim Donnellon, who declined to release further details until an autopsy was performed.  Anderson is remembered by campers as a friendly, campfire regular who would request old rock hits during impromptu jam sessions around the fire.

Four people were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

Several camping trailers were blown onto their roofs and sides. Many others were damaged, including the 30-foot camper where Diana Gawronski and her husband, Ed, were when they saw the sky turning dark.

“The rain came, the wind came and that was it,” said Gawronski, 67, of Warren. The couple “hit the floor, bounced around and then it was over.” Gawronski said her camper stayed upright but suffered significant damage, including losing a screened-in room and the furniture it contained.

Monday, Denise Trombley, of Emmitt, was allowed to retrieve medicine and other belongings from her trailer at the campground that otherwise remains closed.

“The devastation from the damage to the units…you look at it and it’s like ‘Oh my God’…it’s horrible,” said Trombley.

“Everyone’s usually here on the weekend, but this time there was hardly anyone here, having been it would have been so much worse,” she told WWJ’s Ron Dewey, adding her heart went out to those injured and killed from the storm.

“I’d rather have my trailer smashed to smithereens than to have any one lose their life,” Trombley said. “But we can’t make that trade-off, that decision.”

One trailer landed in a large pond on the private campground, which features 80 to 100 campsites about 65 miles north of Detroit. A dive team searched the water as a precaution Sunday night even after authorities said all campground visitors were accounted for.

The National Weather Service had issued multiple tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings across the southern part of the state Sunday and confirmed at least one tornado in southwest Wayne County, about 35 miles southwest of Detroit, that destroyed a couple of garages.

Meteorologist Mike Richter of NWS said that the storm developed so quickly, authorities weren’t able to give residents any warning. And Fire Chief Gary May said they had no advance warning.

Jerry Dyer, one of the campground’s managers, said he was watching the Weather Channel in his camper when he saw a high-wind warning flash on the screen. He immediately headed for the door to warn campers.

“No sooner I got to the door – kaboom! – the rain hit,” Dyer said. “It came out of nowhere.”

The Red Cross was at the campground Sunday night providing aid and making arrangements for a small number of people who did not have a place to stay. Sheriff Donnellon said no one was allowed back into the campground for the night.

Conrad Dzialo, 69, of Dearborn Heights, said he and his wife had left the campground to visit their grandson when he got a call from a friend about what happened. He returned to find his trailer on its side.

“I didn’t realize there was so much devastation,” he said after surveying the site.

Miles away in New Boston, another tornado touched down earlier in the afternoon Sunday. Richter said that several homes were damaged by the tornado which hit at 2:13 p.m. Another tornado touched down in Van Buren County, causing damage but no injuries. 

The National Weather Service confirmed Monday that a tornado hit an eastern Michigan campground, leaving in its wake one person dead, four injured and massive damage.

Meteorologist with the NWS White Lake Township office, Steve Freitag, said Monday the tornado hit the Fort Trodd Family Campground in St. Clair County just after 7p.m. Sunday evening. The storm overturned trailers and cast debris across the grounds.

He added that despite the damage, the tornado was relatively weak with wind gusts of 95 mph.

James Anderson, 75, of Mount Clemens was killed, said Sheriff Tim Donnellon, who declined to release further details until an autopsy was performed.  Anderson is remembered by campers as a friendly, campfire regular who would request old rock hits during impromptu jam sessions around the fire.

Four people were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

Several camping trailers were blown onto their roofs and sides. Many others were damaged, including the 30-foot camper where Diana Gawronski and her husband, Ed, were when they saw the sky turning dark.

“The rain came, the wind came and that was it,” said Gawronski, 67, of Warren. The couple “hit the floor, bounced around and then it was over.” Gawronski said her camper stayed upright but suffered significant damage, including losing a screened-in room and the furniture it contained.

Monday, Denise Trombley, of Emmitt, was allowed to retrieve medicine and other belongings from her trailer at the campground that otherwise remains closed.

“The devastation from the damage to the units…you look at it and it’s like ‘Oh my God’…it’s horrible,” said Trombley.

“Everyone’s usually here on the weekend, but this time there was hardly anyone here, having been it would have been so much worse,” she told WWJ’s Ron Dewey, adding her heart went out to those injured and killed from the storm.

“I’d rather have my trailer smashed to smithereens than to have any one lose their life,” Trombley said. “But we can’t make that trade-off, that decision.”

One trailer landed in a large pond on the private campground, which features 80 to 100 campsites about 65 miles north of Detroit. A dive team searched the water as a precaution Sunday night even after authorities said all campground visitors were accounted for.

The National Weather Service had issued multiple tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings across the southern part of the state Sunday and confirmed at least one tornado in southwest Wayne County, about 35 miles southwest of Detroit, that destroyed a couple of garages.

Meteorologist Mike Richter of NWS said that the storm developed so quickly, authorities weren’t able to give residents any warning. And Fire Chief Gary May said they had no advance warning.

Jerry Dyer, one of the campground’s managers, said he was watching the Weather Channel in his camper when he saw a high-wind warning flash on the screen. He immediately headed for the door to warn campers.

“No sooner I got to the door – kaboom! – the rain hit,” Dyer said. “It came out of nowhere.”

The Red Cross was at the campground Sunday night providing aid and making arrangements for a small number of people who did not have a place to stay. Sheriff Donnellon said no one was allowed back into the campground for the night.

Conrad Dzialo, 69, of Dearborn Heights, said he and his wife had left the campground to visit their grandson when he got a call from a friend about what happened. He returned to find his trailer on its side.

“I didn’t realize there was so much devastation,” he said after surveying the site.

Miles away in New Boston, another tornado touched down earlier in the afternoon Sunday. Richter said that several homes were damaged by the tornado which hit at 2:13 p.m. Another tornado touched down in Van Buren County, causing damage but no injuries.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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