GAYLORD, Mich. (WJMN) – While at the emergency operations center in Gaylord, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for Otsego County after a tornado that left significant damage to buildings and roads. 

“My heart goes out to the families and small businesses impacted by the tornado and severe weather in Gaylord,” Whitmer said. “I have declared a state of emergency for Otsego County to rush resources to the affected areas, and the State Emergency Operations Center has been activated to coordinate our state’s response. Our state is grateful for the first responders and utility workers who are working hard to keep everyone safe. Michiganders are tough. We are resilient. And there’s no challenge we can’t get through together.” 

Just before 4 p.m. on May 20, a tornado touched down in the Gaylord area. Multiple injuries have been reported and there has been one confirmed fatality. There is widespread damage, including homes and businesses that were destroyed, trees and power lines blocking roads, and extensive property damage.  

By declaring a state of emergency, Whitmer has made available all state resources in cooperation with local response and recovery efforts in the designated area. The declaration authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division to coordinate state efforts above and beyond what MSP/EMHSD has already been doing in conjunction with local agencies. 

Otsego County has declared a local state of emergency. The declaration of a local state of emergency activates local emergency response and recovery plans. By requesting a governor’s declaration, the county has determined local resources are insufficient to address the situation and state assistance is required to protect the health, safety and property to lessen or avert the threat of a crisis.