The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Storm forces students to shelter, causes damage to community

Courtesy/ MLive

On Thursday, Aug. 24 at 8:25 p.m., Grand Valley State University students enrolled in the GVSUAlert! Emergency Notification System received a tornado warning as a phone call, text message and email. The message read, “GVSUALERT! TORNADO WARNING Grand Rapids- Seek shelter immediately! Operations suspended until ALL CLEAR announced.” 

The message was issued in response to severe storms that traveled through West Michigan on Thursday night. According to WoodTV, the storms mostly impacted northern Kent County and Ionia County.

The National Weather Service confirmed that an EF1 tornado touched down north of Grand Rapids on Thursday evening. 

The tornado caused much damage to homes and property. With winds up to 110 mph, the tornado brought down power lines, threw trees down and tore apart houses and businesses. 

Heavy rain and bad visibility also caused several car accidents across Kent County. Three people died in a hydroplaning accident just east of Cedar Springs. The Kent County Sheriff’s Office said a Mitsubishi Eclipse lost control, crossed the center and struck an Audi SUV. The 21-year-old female front-seat passenger and the two young girls in the backseat were pronounced dead at the scene. The 22-year-old driver survived and was transported to a hospital with serious injuries.

Segments of US-131 were closed to traffic due to unsafe driving conditions caused by active power lines knocked into the road, blocking the freeway.

Consumers Energy started repairing the power lines soon after the storm passed, though many people had to wait several days to restore their power. By Monday, Aug. 28, consumers had restored power to just over 80 percent of the 200,000 customers who lost power after Thursday’s storm, according to WoodTV.

On GVSU’s Allendale Campus, freshman students were moving into their on-campus dorms the day before the storm touched. The storm did not affect any official move-in operations, but it did affect the dorms as a community.

Freshman undergraduate student Frida Dykens lives in Oak dorms at GVSU. Dykens said many students had to evacuate their rooms. 

“I wasn’t home when the warning hit but the people in my dorm evacuated to the lounge in the basement, following our RA,” Dykens said.

GVSU’s Pew Campus had a different set of issues associated with the storm fallout because of its location being located in Grand Rapids.

Junior student Jessie Price said she was lucky the storm caused minimal damage to her home even though she lives in downtown Grand Rapids.

“It did not affect my home other than some slight flooding in the basement from the heavy rain,” Price said. 

GVSU has extensive emergency policies to protect the campus community in case of dangerous natural phenomena. The most proactive campus procedure is immediate warning statements for students called GVSUAlert!

As soon as a tornado warning is issued, GVSU uses their GVSUAlert! System to send a warning out to everyone who is subscribed to updates. All on-campus operations at the affected campus are suspended until the all-clear is given. 

After receiving the warning, GVSU recommends students relocate to one of the storm shelter locations on campus. However, if students “cannot make it to a designated tornado safety location” they should “move to a small, interior room on the lowest level and stay away from windows, doors and outside walls,” according to the GVSU Weather Emergency page.

GVSU also encourages students in distress to call 911. Additionally, people should inform the Grand Valley Police Department of any disabled persons requiring assistance. 

Should GVSU lose power, classes would most often be switched to remote meeting status so no students or faculty would put themselves at risk. Depending on the severity, the university maintains the right to close the campus and suspend activities entirely.

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