- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

FREEDOM TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - A series of severe thunderstorms that pushed damaging winds and at least five tornados into several parts of Michigan wrecked homes and knocked out power to thousands of people, officials said Tuesday.

From Monday afternoon through early Tuesday, the National Weather Service said tornadoes struck in the Ionia County community of Portland as well as in Saint Clair, Sanilac and Washtenaw counties, while another tore a path through Saginaw and Tuscola counties.

State police reported storm damage that could be from tornadoes in Calhoun, Jackson, Kalamazoo counties.

“Our communities pull together after great challenges,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement.

The National Weather Service said one tornado with 100 mph winds hit about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday just outside of Manchester in Washtenaw County’s Freedom Township. Garrett Macomber told The Ann Arbor News that his farm was among those damaged.

“Half the roof is gone, it ripped out the trees, and I don’t even know about our fence,” Macomber said as he surveyed the Washtenaw County property. “The roof is all the way out in the hay field.”

Macomber said he jumped out of bed and ran to get everyone into the basement of his home as quickly as possible. The four people who live at the farm were accounted for, as were two dogs, 10 horses and a goat.

“It was a ridiculous amount of wind,” he said. “It felt like the whole house was lifting off its foundation.”

The most damage was reported in Portland, near Lansing, where five people were rescued from buildings after a tornado packing winds of about 100 mph hit Monday. The American Red Cross has opened a shelter for residents as cleanup takes place and Ionia County has declared a local state of emergency. More than 50 homes were damaged, officials said.

Heavy rain also caused flooding that slowed traffic on Detroit-area freeways and prompted flood warnings.

Late Monday, a tornado touched down about 5 miles from Decker in Sanilac County, destroying a large dairy farm. No injuries were reported.

Shortly afterward, about 5 miles from Millington near the Saginaw-Tuscola County line, another tornado with 115 mph winds was confirmed. A fire official said at least four houses were damaged and a few people were treated for minor injuries.

Bruce LaChappelle said he and his 12-year-old son, Kadyn, saw a funnel cloud Monday bearing down on their home in Tuscola County’s Arbela Township, and they and Bruce LaChappelle’s girlfriend retreated to the basement.

“I felt the rumble,” he said. “It was pulling my hoodie off of my neck. It was choking me.”

“Dad, is this the end?” Kadyn asked.

“No son,” his father said, but he acknowledged afterward that he feared the worst.

“I was just holding on to him,” LaChappelle told The Saginaw News. “I thought we were dead.”

The tornado destroyed the home.

The tornado that hit St. Clair County’s Riley Township on Monday just before midnight packed only 75 mph winds, the weather service said.

Storms overturned a recreational vehicle and downed trees in Saginaw County. In the Jackson area, authorities said at least four homes sustained extensive damage.

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