Tornadoes Destroy Michigan FedEx Facility but Workers Safe

State of Emergency Declared in Michigan as Storms Batter Midwest
FedEx facility damaged by tornadoes in Michigan
FedEx trucks sit outside a damaged FedEx facility after a tornado in Portage, Mich., on May 7. (Brad Devereaux/Kalamazoo Gazette via Associated Press)

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PAVILION TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Severe storms barreled through the Midwest early May 8, a day after two reported tornadoes struck a Michigan city and the surrounding area, destroying homes and commercial buildings, including a FedEx facility.

Tornadoes were first reported after dark May 7 in parts of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, while portions of Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri were also under a tornado watch, according to the National Weather Service. The storms came a day after a deadly twister ripped through an Oklahoma town.

In southwestern Michigan, two reported tornadoes blitzed the city of Portage and an adjacent community May 7, destroying homes and commercial buildings, including a FedEx facility that was ripped apart.

No serious injuries were immediately reported, but city officials said in a release that the twisters knocked out power to more than 20,000 people. Most of them would be without power until late May 8, city officials said.

At one point, about 50 people were trapped inside the FedEx facility because of downed power lines. But company spokesperson Shannon Davis said late May 7 that “all team members are safe and accounted for.”

FedEx ranks No. 2 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America and No. 34 on the TT Top 100 list of the largest logistics companies.

Kalamazoo County, Mich., Sheriff Richard Fuller said more than a dozen mobile homes in Pavilion Township were “totally destroyed.” At least 16 people, he added, were injured there, though the injuries were not life-threatening.

“We found homes in the roadway,” the sheriff said. “We found homes in neighbors’ homes. We found large trees in homes.”

Pavilion Township is adjacent to Portage and about 137 miles west of Detroit.

FedEx facility damaged by tornadoes in Michigan

Debris is seen at the damaged FedEx facility in Portage, Mich., on May 7. (Brad Devereaux/Kalamazoo Gazette via Associated Press)

Survey teams planned to head out May 8 to determine whether tornadoes struck locations in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, according to Jeff Craven, the meteorologist-in-charge in the weather service’s Pittsburgh office.

Radar indicated Hancock County, W.Va., and in Jefferson County, Ohio, were hit by tornadoes, but teams will have to evaluate the damage to determine their rating, Craven said.

Hancock County Schools in West Virginia closed schools May 8 because of “extensive overnight weather issues” in the county. News outlets reported damaged buildings and power outages.

More than 30,000 customers were without power in Michigan early May 8, and an additional 10,000 in Ohio, according to

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for four counties.

The May 7 storms came a day after parts of the central United States were battered by heavy rain, strong winds, hail and twisters. Both the Plains and Midwest have been hammered by tornadoes this spring.

Across the U.S., the entire week is looking stormy. The Midwest and the South are expected to get the brunt of the bad weather through the rest of the week, including in Indianapolis, Memphis, Nashville, St. Louis and Cincinnati — cities where more than 21 million people live. It should be clear over the weekend.

On May 6, a deadly twister in Oklahoma tore through the 1,000-person town of Barnsdall. At least one person was killed and another was missing. Dozens of homes were destroyed.