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Gaylord Homeowners, Businesses Clean Up After Devastating Tornado

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Businesses and homeowners were left to pick up the pieces of their livelihoods, their jobs, and their memories on Saturday after an EF-3 tornado hit the area on Friday.

“We got the alarm on our phones, our phones started doing that buzz from the community alert system,” said homeowner Heather Appold. “We all just kind of were like, ‘Oh it’s a warning’, sometimes you don’t really take that serious.”

But this time it was — and for Appold and her family, things were serious.

“We flipped on the television and we saw the radar, and that’s when we decided to go downstairs,” she said. “We have a 13-year-old son Tyler, and we all got on the floor and just threw cushions on him and protected ourselves as the walls came down and our house shifted about 30 feet of the foundation.”

Appold said they’re just processing everything, and grabbed what possessions they could from the wreckage.

“We got some memories out of the corner that we could, baby albums and wedding albums,” she said. “Just trying to get some memories, even though it can be replaced.”

Across town, the business manager at Northern Michigan RV saw the tornado coming.

“I looked over and I see it way, way out there start forming, and you can see everything circling and spinning,” said Charlie Burton. “Not long after I went inside, you hear everything start roaring and crashing and it gets louder and louder and louder.”

Burton said there were about 160 RVs in their inventory. After the tornado, there were around 101 toppled over each other on their property.

“It was pretty much all a total loss,” he said.

But they’re grateful for the community’s support.

“Family, friends, strangers, people I know through a volunteer group. Everyone’s here or they’ve called or texted,” said Appold. “It’s a community effort and it’s amazing to see.”