Wednesday’s microburst storm of strong winds and hail left Albion’s campus covered in debris and without power, but according to Michael Frandsen, interim president, the school suffered very little property damage, aside from the loss of trees. Many Albion community residents, however, didn’t fare so well.
“It was raining hard and blowing walnuts sideways that were hitting the windshield,” said Elaine Gott, Albion resident. “It was bad.”
Gott’s legs were covered in tiny shards of glass as she stood in the rain waiting for the tow truck. She was just moments from her home when, at the corner of East Erie Street and South Ionia, a large tree limb, roughly two feet in circumference, was blown from a tree and landed on the hood of her new Ford Excursion, bashing in her windshield.
“I was on my way home, and all I know is bam, something hit me in the head,” Gott said. “I’m shaken, I’m shook up, but I’m OK. My head hurts.”
Elaine Gott’s husband, Brian Gott, reported that they couldn’t even go to their home because another tree fell across the road, taking out both power lines and their neighbor’s front window.
“It went from rain to, all the sudden, the rain just went sideways, and then you heard a big boom, and what a mess—what a mess,” Gott said.
This is the first time in recent memory that such a severe storm has affected the Albion community.
“I’ve lived here a long time, and I have never seen this much damage, ever, in this area,” said Lisa Pratt, Albion resident. “I’m just kind of—I don’t know what to think. We got lucky.”
Pratt reports that the tree that fell into their front yard has lost limbs that knocked out the power lines and left live wires in her driveway several times in the past.
“I don’t know if this is a hot-spot for tree damage or what,” Pratt said.
On South Superior Street, the storm also left several businesses with damage to clean up. Demaso Lebron, a Parts Plus Autostore employee, spent his time after the storm cleaning up shattered remains of the storefront’s broken window.
“I’m not sure why the window blew out exactly,” Lebron said, “I think it was just from shaking, cause the wind was blowing so hard.”
He noted that the pile of what looked like miscellaneous debris sitting outside a nearby storefront was actually what remained of a roof that belonged to the store across the street. The wind, according to Lebron, blew the roof across the street, through the trees and into the second floor of the building containing the Ace Hardware store, breaking several windows.
“Looks like a tornado came through here, man,” Lebron said. “I’m not sure exactly, but it was blowing.”
From Victory Park to the east side of East Michigan Avenue, fallen trees and the damage they caused define the landscape. Larry Maynard, an employee for the city of Albion parks department, said that at least 50 trees were down across the township.
Back on campus, Frandsen said that the college is working hard to ensure a green light for classes this Monday.
“So far, we’ve got great support from the city, great support from Consumers Energy, great support from the staff here, and great cooperation from students,” Frandsen said. “Things are moving along well, but it’s going to take a while to clean up this mess.”
Frandsen noted that, if anything, the silver lining to all this destruction (besides, of course, not having classes for two days) is that people, college and city residents alike, really came together as a result.
“I ran into a couple student last night about a quarter-to-twelve, I asked how they were doing, and they said, ‘We’re doing fine, and that what we think is great is that this is pulling us together as a community,’” Frandsen said. “And you’ve probably heard from me that community is important. I hate that it’s an event like this that contributes to that, but it’s really great that everyone is pulling together.”
Those words ring especially poignant as the storm fell on the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
Photos by Travis Trombley