DEXTER (WWJ) - Emergency crews and residents in Dexter have begun the long process of cleaning up damage caused by a tornado -- with winds estimated around 135 mph -- that wreaked havoc across the village Thursday night.
Authorities who began assessing the damage overnight said more than 100 homes were damaged and at least 13 homes were completely destroyed. WWJ Newsradio 950's Marie Osborne reported seeing houses torn in half.
National Weather Service meteorologist Steven Freitag said the tornado was on the ground for about a half hour and had a path about 10 miles long.
Craig Kerby lives near Dexter's Huron Farms subdivision.
"It's unbelievable. I mean, you see this stuff on the news and everything that happens in other places, but when you actually see it yourself it's kind of unfathomable," he said.
"That entire area there, near Hudson Mills Park outside of Dexter to the north, there has a lot of debris and damage to homes and downed trees and power lines," said Mark Breckinridge, Emergency Management Director of Washtenaw County.
Denise Semion, a spokeswoman with the Huron Clinton Metroparks, said the park's golf course is almost unrecognizable.
The park has been closed indefinitely.
"There's significant damage on the course, with trees down, and also there's a lot of debris that has made its pathway into the course, such as mattress, toys and things like that, from the neighboring houses," Semion said. "Obviously, we'll have a lot of trees that will need to be cut and there's quite the extensive cleanup process that has to be done."
Dexter fire chief Loren Yates told WWJ Newsradio 950 police officers and sheriff's deputies are swarming the area, trying to secure areas that were damaged.
"Oh, I can't even tell you how many there were here, and still are. We basically tried to secure the areas where the major damage is at. In fact, they're doing that as we speak," said Yates.
Yates said buildings and homes on both sides of town were damaged.
"The tornado picked up and hit just West of town, picked up a couple of buildings on the North side of town, and then it hit a fairly new subdivision to the East," he said.
Yates said they'll spend Friday taking a second look at tornado damage.
"We're going to do a reassessment of the area and try to determine the needs and what has to be done right now," he said.
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