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Tornadoes tear through Southwest Michigan

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(The Center Square) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency Wednesday for Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, Branch and Cass counties after a severe storm system, including 4-inch wide hail and at least two confirmed tornadoes significantly damaged buildings and roads Tuesday night.

National Weather Service radar confirmed the storm system resulted in multiple tornadoes touching down in the affected areas. There is widespread damage, including homes and businesses that were destroyed, trees and power lines blocking roads, and extensive property damage.

The order authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division to coordinate state efforts.

“My heart goes out to all those impacted by tonight’s severe weather in southwest Michigan,” Whitmer said in a statement. “State and local emergency teams are on the ground and working together to assist Michiganders. I’ve declared a state of emergency to ensure resources are expedited to the area and activated our State Emergency Operations Center.”

More than 20,000 people in Portage are without power, the city said in a news release.

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, a Republican representing the fourth district, posted pictures of the aftermath to social media.

“Please join me in praying for the city of Portage and all those impacted by the tornadoes and storms,” Huizenga wrote.

State Sen. Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo, thanked first responders.

“My heart goes out to all of the residents, business owners and communities in Kalamazoo County and the surrounding areas impacted by tonight’s tornadoes,” McCann said in a statement.“I appreciate the swift work of our first responders, volunteers and neighbors to help those who were injured or experienced damages, and am grateful for the governor’s equally swift response to declare an emergency in the area and dedicate state support to assist with cleanup and repairs.”

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