Spring storm wreaks havoc in Oceana County

April 13, 2014
Bert VandenHuevel and his son, Logan, clean up damage at their Weare Twp. home.

Bert VandenHuevel and his son, Logan, clean up damage at their Weare Twp. home.

By Allison Scarbrough and Rob Alway.

WEARE TWP. — Bert Vandenhuevel was hanging out with his sons in the mancave Saturday night when they heard what sounded like a freight train come by. Moments later, wind wreaked havoc at the Washington Road residents in Weare Township.

A play house and swing set at Kevin Schultz' house in Rothbury toppled over.

A play house and swing set at Kevin Schultz’ house in Rothbury toppled over.

“I swear it was a tornado,” he said. A section of a large tree landed on top of VandenHuevel’s house causing severe damage. “I’m thankful my wife, Marie, wasn’t in the bedroom when that tree hit,” he said. “Water started gushing inside the house after that.”

The storm caused major damage to the Bass Lake area just on the other side of the Mason County line. But, the National Weather Service says it wasn’t a tornado.

“The National Weather Service says no tornados,” Riverton Township Fire Chief Joe Cooper, who has been the emergency incident commander, said. “We had a rare micro downburst. Cold air came across Lake Michigan and hit warm air and dry spots in the atmosphere. This caused super accelerated wind and forced it straight to the ground.

“When this type of pattern hits the ground it can go in any direction. The NWS says looking at our pictures we had winds around 80 to 85 mph and possibly 100 mph.

“Tornados make suction and pull everything in. We have no evidence of that.”

Torrential rain, fierce winds and pelting hail caused serious damage throughout Oceana County. Residents were picking up the pieces this morning.

Trees fell over near New Era.

Trees fell over near New Era.

“This just shows that we are at Mother Nature’s mercy,” said Rothbury resident Mike Zainea this morning.

A play house and swing set, weighing approximately a half ton, toppled to the ground in the yard of Rothbury resident Kevin Schultz. “I’m not going to re-build,” Schultz said as he assessed the destroyed structure this morning.  A large mangled piece of metal from a nearby barn ended up on his property.

There were several reports of destroyed and damaged barns in rural areas of the county.

“It just kept storming all night,” he said.

Power only flickered off for a few minutes at Schultz’s residence last night, but many Oceana County residents were without power for several hours.

City of Hart residents were without power from approximately 8 p.m. when the storm unleashed until approximately 8 a.m. today. In New Era, the downtown was deserted, as residents were still without power as of 11:30 a.m. Gas pumps at Wesco were not running.

Several trees were uprooted along Water Road from New Era to Rothbury. A Great Lakes Energy work crew was still at the scene on Clay Road, which was closed due to a fallen tree and flooding on the roadway. The crew was also removing a downed power pole on Clay Road.

Power outages in Pentwater and road closures in the Bass Lake area were also reported.


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