School resuming in Michigan village hit by tornado - WNEM TV 5

School resuming in Michigan village hit by tornado

Home destroyed in Dexter Home destroyed in Dexter
(AP Photo/Detroit News, Daniel Mears) (AP Photo/Detroit News, Daniel Mears)

DEXTER, Mich. (AP) - Classes are resuming for students in a Michigan village that was hit last week by a tornado.

Dexter Community Schools says students go back to school Monday following Thursday's tornado that damaged more than 100 homes and destroyed at least 13.

"When you look at the path and you look at the physical destruction ... it's amazing," Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton said Friday.

No serious injuries were reported following the tornado, which hit Dexter, located west of Ann Arbor, as well as other parts of Washtenaw County.

By midday Friday, authorities had accounted for the entire population of nearly 4,000.

"We're confident that we're not missing anybody," Fire Chief Loren Yates said.

The tornado was part of a slow-moving system that also brought large hail, heavy rain and high winds. Gusts downed power lines, sparking fires.

Two sirens went off at 5:09 p.m. Thursday. The twister touched down at 5:33 p.m., giving many families enough time to get to safety.

Jack Davidson was watching TV when he heard the sirens. He and his wife dashed to the basement.

When they emerged, they didn't see much damage at first and thought the storm had spared the area. But one glance across the street revealed a different reality: a self-serve car wash had been flattened.

"It's bad," Davidson said. "The pizza shop's bad. But the worst damage is to the car wash."

Two blocks away, the twister didn't even touch down.

"I guess we were just lucky we were in the right spot," Davidson said.

Perry Samson, an atmospheric science professor at the University of Michigan, said it's "relatively rare" to have such a powerful tornado in the state at this time of year. In January 2008, with temperatures in the 60s, tornadoes developed in southeastern Wisconsin. Temperatures topped 70 on Thursday in Michigan.

"Extra moisture and extra heat certainly contributed to the instability that we had. ... We didn't see this coming," Samson said Friday from the Ann Arbor campus, 10 miles from Dexter. "We're still scratching our heads."

Two weaker tornadoes were reported in Monroe County's Ida Township and in Lapeer County, near Columbiaville, where authorities found damage across a three-mile area. The storm ripped a two-story home from its foundation and damaged barns and vehicles.

On Friday, the buzz of chainsaws and the groan of heavy machinery filled the air in the community northwest of Ann Arbor. Families spent the day sorting through the remains of houses that had been turned into splinters.

Saundra Psujek was using a rake to clean up debris from trees that had been toppled onto her family home. At one point, she looked up to see two dozen Dexter High School football players standing in her yard.

The teens had been rallied the night before by their coach, and they soon formed a line that began passing large chunks of broken trees to a wood chipper offered by a landscaping company.

After the storm, coach Brian Baird had sent a simple text message to players: "The village needs you."

Someone else left five dozen bagels and two cases of bottled water on Psujek's doorstep.

"I'm completely overwhelmed," she said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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