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Gaylord family sheltered at work while tornado passed by their home

Experts give tornado safety advice for Michigan following tragedy in Gaylord.
Experts give tornado safety advice for Michigan following tragedy in Gaylord.(WILX)
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 4:31 PM EDT
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GAYLORD, Mich. (WNEM) - The Gaylord community is still cleaning up after a tornado swept through Friday, killing two people, and injuring more than 40 others.

Most of the power lost in the region has been restored, but the damage done could take months to repair.

That tornado led to some frightening moments for people in the region.

“In all the years I’ve lived up here, we’ve had wind shear storms that did damage. We’ve had bad storms that did damage. It has never been this bad,” said Steve Dreyer, Gaylord resident.

Dreyer and his son Mike were sheltering at their work when the tornado passed right by their house on Friday.

“I mean, it went from blue sky to light gray to dark gray to rain to the tornado and in five minutes it was done. It went past us that fast,” Dreyer said.

The Dreyers still do not have any power. The winds broke windows, stripped siding, and uprooted plants.

One stump is what remains of a 40-foot tree. It survived devastating winds five years ago, but couldn’t survive a 150 mile per hour EF-3 tornado.

The Dreyers are still waiting on insurance to come check their home.

“It takes a day to process. And when I seen all the damage, I was like, I’m thanking my lucky stars that one, I have my health, my family’s okay,” Mike Dreyer said.

The Dreyers’ damage is not as bad as Ardis Heacock Huff’s backyard.

“I was on the deck telling my mother that this was my kingdom. I think that was my first mistake,” Huff said.

Her kingdom is now a mess of branches, glass, and debris.

Huff’s husband Stephen was in the Upper Peninsula fishing at the time, but his dash cam picked up video of the storm.

“And then all of the sudden the door slammed to the stairwell. Mom and I are in the stairwell. The doors all slammed. And it was only about -- I heard the trees fell, I heard the basswood -- we’ve got a clump of five huge basswood -- I heard them fall through the house. I really thought we were done,” Huff said.

Besides broken windows and rafters, the Huff’s house is fine.