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EF-2 tornado confirmed in Ingham County, at least two dead in mid-Michigan after severe storms

The photo shows a red barn that has been destroyed by a tornado. The roof of the barn is gone, and the walls are partially collapsed. There is debris scattered all around, including pieces of wood and metal. The ground is also covered in mud and debris.
Michelle Jokisch Polo
A red barn located in Webberville was nearly destroyed after a tornado passed through the area Thursday night.

Updated August 26, 2023 12:12 p.m. ET

Severe weather Thursday night caused widespread damage across mid-Michigan, leaving thousands without power, multiple roads shut down and at least two dead.

The National Weather Service is confirming that an EF-2 tornado touched down Thursday night near Williamston in Ingham County.

Meteorologist Dave Gurney says preliminary information shows that after entering Livingston County, the tornado remained on the ground for a mile or less before “weakening and lifting.”

Haven of Rest is an adult foster care facility along Williamston Road. Staff had to evacuate all sixteen of the building’s residents after strong winds partially tore its roof off during the peak of the storm.

Mark Guastella’s mother-in-law lives at the facility. He was there the morning after helping pack up the residents’ belongings.

“The amount of damage to look around and to know that a tornado touched down right here, and nobody in the facility really was injured,” he said. “It was an act of God, I guess, that saved them all.”

He says the inside of the home is uninhabitable.

Meghan Rinaldi is the director at the facility. She says residents were taken to the Ingham County Medical Care Facility on Dobie Road.

“By the time, I got out here they already had everybody out on the porch. And we're loading them up and heading over to Dobie,” she said.

She says at this point, she doesn’t know if the building is salvageable or if the residents will be able to return.

The sheriff's office said more than 25 vehicles along I-96 were severely damaged, with one confirmed fatality and several people severely injured.

truck on its side leaning on a rail at night. There are emergency vehicles in the background
Ingham County Emergency Management
A severe storm Thursday caused damage along I-96 and M-52 in Williamston and Webberville.

That was not the only death tied to the storm.

Lansing Police Department officers were dispatched Thursday night to the 1600 block of Martin Street for a tree that fell on a house.

The Fire Department arrived and had to extricate the person from the building. That person was transported to a local hospital where they were pronounced deceased.

The victim has been identified as 84-year-old Vernita Payne.

A tree appears to be torn in half and is blocking an area in Lansing's Moore's Park.
Michelle Jokisch Polo
Broken branches, trees and power lines blocked areas of Moore's Park in Lansing.

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor declared a local state of emergency Friday afternoon to mobilize local resources.

Eaton County also declared a local state of emergency after the storm. The courthouse and any county government offices not tied to the emergency are closed.

As of Saturday morning, Consumers Energy had restored power to about 40% of the nearly 200,000 customers that had lost electricity. More than 16,000 Lansing Board of Water and Light customers were still affected by the outages.

Consumers says it hopes to restore power to most of its customers by the end of the weekend.

In the city of Jackson, crews are working to remove a large number of downed trees blocking streets while Consumers Energy addresses any downed power lines.

Clearing streets is being prioritized first before Department of Public Works staff focus on cleaning up trees from parkways and sidewalks. That could take up to one week to finish.

Tree debris from private property should not be taken from yards and put in the street.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

A downed power line across a road in Webberville. Caution tape is wrapped around the line and three cones on the ground are placed on the road near it.
Michelle Jokisch Polo
Thursday storms caused thousands of residents across Ingham County to lose power.

Sophia Saliby is the local producer and host of All Things Considered, airing 4pm-7pm weekdays on 90.5 FM WKAR.
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