Glen Arbor’s “Big Storm” of August 2, 2015

I got a call from my mother on a Sunday afternoon, and from “hello,” I recognized the apocalyptic tone in her voice.

“Everyone’s OK, but we just got hit by a tornado.”

The photos streamed in over the following days via Facebook and text, with updates from my family as they cut out through the downed trees, which just so happened to cover the roads a half mile in either direction from the end of our driveway. Huge swaths of forest were completely clear cut. Winds up to 100 miles an hour. There was a huge number of family and guests staying at our house that day, an unexpected number of people who then had to spend even longer stuck with no power or running water. They had to bring buckets up from the lake to flush the toilets. Craig and I were the only members of my family who weren’t there. My brothers took on massive chainsaw endeavors to try to clear some of the 35 trees that had fallen on our property alone. Our place:

trees on house

I kept tabs on the whole thing via screen, 800 miles away. The photos and videos of the storm itself are chilling. Check out this slideshow of storm photos by MLive.


Photo via Glen Arbor Sun; reader submitted

It wasn’t exactly a tornado, said the weather service in the end. That part I found to be pretty fascinating. People who witnessed it were sure, based on the way the trees seemed to be twisted, that this was not a straight-line wind storm.  And they were pretty upset to be told otherwise. But there was a lot of fascination with it – there’s even a book that’s already been published about the storm.

The damage, last I heard, was estimated toward $30 million, yet not one person was injured. That’s the real surprise, and a pleasant one. Everyone was affected, no one was hurt. And people really came together to help each other – the chef at Blu in Glen Arbor fed the people who were stranded and camping out in the township building. Volunteers cropped up from all over to help clean up the town. Members of my own family even helped cook for folks.

We lost our garage and two cars, and also our massive canopy of woods. But it could have been much worse. When we got up there for our vacation in the end of August, there were enormous stacks of tree trunks on the side of the road everywhere you went. Everyone had their story they wanted to share. But mostly people were grateful there were no injuries and happy that the community banded together to clean up.

Today, the Glen Arbor Sun published a great piece titled “Time Heals,” which puts things in perspective: our town’s culture is shaped by the natural disasters and other tragedies that have happened there.