FEMA grants expedited assessment for Gaylord tornado damage

Gaylord after the May 20, 2022, tornado.(Photo: MSP)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has agreed to an expedited request to review damage of the Gaylord, Michigan, tornado which will help lead to federal assistance in the cleanup of the city.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced on Tuesday that FEMA agreed to a request for a joint Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) with local and state officials. This is the next step to lead to federal assistance, which Whitmer calls ‘critical’ in helping the city and county rebuild.

"This assessment is a critical step in seeking federal aid for Otsego County by confirming the reported damage caused by Friday’s tornado," said Governor Whitmer. "We are expediting the damage assessment process to ensure we receive all possible assistance for the people of Gaylord, as quickly as possible. Michiganders are tough, and together, we will do what it takes to rebuild." 

Teams from FEMA, Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD), local governments and the U.S. Small Business Administration will all be in the area to help determine the damage.

The tornado killed two people Friday afternoon when it touched down in northern Michigan. At least 44 others were hurt and dozens of businesses were severely damaged. 

The tornado touched down at 3:44 p.m. just west of Gaylord in a mobile home community, then moved into the main business strip, damaging a path of businesses, buildings, homes and cars.

Immediately after, Whitmer declared a state of emergency to help allocate resources.

"By declaring a state of emergency we are making available all state resources in cooperation with local response and recovery efforts," Whitmer said."A declaration authorizes the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security to coordinate our state effort - above and beyond what MSP has already been doing in conjunction with these phenomenal local agencies."