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Kalamazoo County and state declare a state of emergency after Tuesday's tornado

The FedEx building in Portage sits across the road. The side of the large white building has been ripped off by a tornado, with red beams and the dark interior of the building clearly visible.
Michael Symonds
The FedEx building in Portage sustained heavy damage in storms that reportedly included tornadoes, Tuesday, May 7, 2024.

Kalamazoo County Sheriff Rick Fuller said "everything indicates" one tornado was on the ground in the county Tuesday. Radar indicated a second one that may not have touched down.

This story has been updated.

Storms that included at least one tornado touch-down hit Portage and Pavilion Township on Tuesday, causing widespread damage. Sheriff Fuller said at a press conference late Tuesday night that there were reports of 16-20 injuries.

"Pavilion Estates Mobile Home Park has been hit hard by the tornadoes, with entire homes destroyed," Kalamazoo County spokesperson Taylor Koopman said in a statement Tuesday evening.

"We have transit, EMS, and rescue teams on the ground to relocate Portage residents to the Portage Senior Center, located at 203 E Centre Ave in Portage, and other County residents to Radiant Church, located at 995 Romence Rd. in Portage," she added.

Despite the damage, there were no reports of deaths as of early Wednesday morning.

Kalamazoo County officials announced that the county would declare a "local state of emergency in response to the significant damage caused by multiple tornadoes within the County."  

The county is also asking people to fill out a damage self-reporting tool to mark points on the map where they have observed homes, buildings and infrastructure that was damaged in Tuesday's tornados.

The city of Portage is urging people in affected areas of the city to stay home on Wednesday. City crews will be working to assess damage from the tornados.

Non-emergency offices in Portage are closed Wednesday. People needing assistance with sheltering or other human service needs should call 2-1-1.

A Federal Express facility near the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport was among the buildings that suffered major structural damage on Tuesday. About 50 people were stuck in the building after the storm due to downed wires. FedEx later confirmed they had been rescued.

A woman and her son sit on a blue and black ATV. They're both wearing sandals and sweatshirts, with the woman's son wearing an all-black dirt bike helmet. Various branches and leaves can be seen on the ground around them, an obvious sign of the reported tornado that had recently passed through.
Michael Symonds
Becky Harris and her son Liam drove around her neighborhood in Portage on an ATV to check on their neighbors Tuesday evening. She said her home didn't take much damage but many of her neighbors had major damage. With trees blocking the many of the roads, an ATV was a more reliable way to get around.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency and activated the State Emergency Operations Center.

Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief David Boysen said the tornado or tornadoes mostly missed Kalamazoo.

"We actually got spared any major damage in the city of Kalamazoo," he said.

"What we're doing here in the city of Kalamazoo is we've recalled all of our off-duty personnel and we are assisting down in Portage with search and rescue operations or technical rescue team responded down there," Boysen said Tuesday evening.

Leona has worked as a journalist for most of her life - in radio, print, television and as journalism instructor. She has a background in consumer news, special projects and investigative reporting.
Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
Report for America national service program corps member Michael Symonds joined WMUK’s staff in 2023. He covers the “rural meets metro” beat, reporting stories that link seemingly disparate parts of Southwest Michigan.
Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. She covered those topics and more in eight years of reporting for the Station, before becoming news director in 2022.