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Weekend tornadoes tear across Michigan farmland

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A major storm system destroyed barns, twisted irrigation pivots, and left fields in standing water

 

In the EF-1 tornado’s path was Chapin Family Farms LLC in Remus, Michigan. The storm destroyed two of the dairy farm’s heifer facilities and partially damaged another.

“But nobody was hurt,” said owner Doug Chapin. “I had two families and actually a close neighbor right across the road, and other than trees and barns like that, no people were hurt, so we’re real grateful for that. We had some cattle injured and our veterinary clinic was out … accessing some of the cattle and treating them.”

Chapin said the storm hit his Mecosta County farm around 2:30 p.m. June 26.

“If you looked at the barns, you would have thought it would have been a lot worse than it was, so that’s good,” said Chapin, board chairman of the Michigan Milk Producers Association.

Other areas hit hard by the storm include Ionia and Clare counties, according to a news release from Michigan Farm Bureau.

Record daily rainfall hit Grand Rapids June 26 at 2.81 inches, up from 2.78 inches set in 1909, according to the National Weather Service. In all, five tornadoes hit Michigan on Saturday.

The recent wet weather has “really changed the game for agriculture,” said Jeff Andresen, state climatologist for Michigan.

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Tornado damage to a barn Lake Odessa in Ionia County. (Image courtesy of Ingham County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management)

“D2 drought to severe-drought conditions to flooding virtually within a week or 10 days — that’s something we don’t see very often,” said Andresen. “We actually don’t see this very often anywhere, but we literally have seen the rainfall that has fallen over the last week over four inches in many cases and over eight inches in other. It caused major flooding.”

Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan has reported 500 claims since the storm took place, with roughly 90 percent of them related to the heavy rains.

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