‘Mass devastation’: See crushed vehicles, trees through homes in Muskegon …

June 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips

FRUITLAND TOWNSHIP, MI – When the Mixters moved from the New Orleans area to be closer to family, they had no idea eight months later they would end up in the middle of a storm that caused “mass devastation,” according to one witness, and knocked down huge trees on their property.

Linda and Steve Mixter were among the unlucky few that encountered major storm damage early Tuesday, June 17. Enormous trees had fallen across their yard, crushing their vehicles, but only minimally damaging their rental home in the 4900 block of Orshal Road in Fruitland Township.

The more severe storms missed much of southern Muskegon County, but Fruitland Township was in the path of powerful wind gusts and lightening early Tuesday morning.

“We’re fine. Nobody was hurt and that’s the biggest thing,” said Linda Mixter, standing near her three dogs and her husband while about a dozen tree service workers removed debris from her yard.

“Look out,” warned Shawn Arvey, owner of RV Tree Service out of Fruitport.

Arvey pointed to partially fallen trees that were draped over an area in front of the Mixter house.

“That one’s about to go,” Arvey said. “Everything is really unstable here.”

The storm in the Fruitland Township area included powerful winds that started knocking large trees down like dominoes around 4 a.m. Tuesday.

The Mixters’ three dogs ended up in their bed around that time, and that’s when Linda Mixter knew something was about to happen.

“We had heard thunder and lightning cracking and the dogs were on our bed because they are scared of storms,” she said. “We heard the tree crack and then fall on the house and then all the other trees followed.”

The tree that struck the front corner of her home didn’t do much damage and the Mixters are able to live in the home. Homes in that area of Orshal Road lost power.

The Mixters’ vehicles were “mangled,” but Steve Mixter said he was just relieved none of their neighbors was injured.

“We didn’t get hurt,” he said.

A home located near the Mixters’ house received the most damage. That resident wasn’t home at the time, and likely won’t be moving back into the rental home for a while.

Large trees crashed through the home where children had been living, too. 

Melissa Yeakey, who lives in between the Mixter home and the most damaged home, said she heard everyone on the block escaped injury.

Yeakey was working her third shift job when the storm hit and her four children – ages 6, 8, 11 and 13 – were home with Yeakey’s mother.

“I feel very fortunate no one was hurt,” she said, standing outside of her home taking pictures and video with her phone.

“I was at work and my mother heard loud gusts of wind and everyone woke up. The only thing wrong at our place is that the power is out.”

One of Yeakey’s daughters, Trinity, looked up and pulled on her sweatshirt sleeves.

“I don’t like storms,” she said.

Meteorologists in Grand Rapids said more storms were likely to blow through West Michigan Tuesday evening.

Most of Muskegon County wasn’t affected by the storm damage. Tree limbs were reportedly down in Mason and Oceana counties and some power lines were down as well.

Tree service workers in Fruitland Township had their work cut out for them Tuesday. There were several large trees still on the most damaged houses on Orshal Road, many large limbs on the Mixter house and trees and limbs all over that area.

“It’s amazing,” Arvey said. “It’s mass devastation.”

Arvey said there were probably 25 large trees in that area and many had come down Tuesday morning and some still will when strong winds come through again.

“I’m used to seeing this and this still shocks even me,” he said. “It’s really lucky no one got hurt.”

Residents can check an online power outage map on Consumers Energy’s website here: www.consumersenergy.com/outagemap. They can also visit www.consumersenergy.com/outagecenter where they can report an outage, get safety tips before, during and after a storm and link to the outage map.

As of 12:30 p.m. Tuesday there were still 457 customers in the Spring Lake area at 144th Avenue, south of M-104, who remained without power since 9:45 a.m. That’s scheduled to be back on by 1:30 p.m. There were less than 100 Muskegon County residents without power around noon Tuesday.

Heather Lynn Peters covers police and fire, and writes a statewide food column, The Spunky Kitchen,  for MLive/Muskegon Chronicle. Email her at hpeters@mlive.com and follow her on Twitter @HLPNEWS.

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