At least 1 dead, 44 injured after tornado strikes northern Michigan, causing 'heavy damage'

GAYLORD, Mich. -- One person died, multiple people were injured and "heavy damage" reported after a destructive tornado tore through northern Michigan Friday afternoon, authorities said.

A Munson Healthcare spokesman confirmed that there had been one death and 44 injuries, ABC News reported. The spokesperson could not speak to the severity of the injuries.

The injured are being treated at four separate hospitals. 23 patients have been admitted at Otsego Memorial Hospital, 12 patients at Grayling Hospital, eight patients at McLaren Northern Michigan Petoskey, and one patient Munson Medical Center Traverse City.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a declaration of emergency for Otsego County on Friday night.

"Michiganders are tough. We are resilient. We will do what it takes to rebuild. There's no challenge we can't get through together," she said on Twitter.

Michigan State Police for the Seventh District confirmed that a tornado touched down in Otsego County.

"Trees and power lines blocking roadways. Multiple homes and businesses damaged," the agency said on Twitter. "Avoid the Gaylord area. Emergency crews are responding."

State police said there was "heavy damage" throughout the area.

Residents in Gaylord are asked to shelter in place through 8 a.m. Saturday due to the "ongoing emergency," state police said.

Images from the scene showed leveled buildings, damaged roofs on businesses, downed trees and cars flipped over.

"My heart goes out to the families and small businesses impacted by the tornado and severe weather in Gaylord," Whitmer said on Twitter. "To the entire Gaylord community -- Michigan is with you. We will do what it takes to rebuild."

A severe thunderstorm watch had been issued for the region through the evening, with the National Weather Service warning that "an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out in the greater area."

William Gretsky contributed to this report.
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