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Thunderstorm Damages Trees, Property in Dexter Township

Heavy winds from Thursday's thunderstorm uprooted trees and damaged property on Island Lake Road.

Heavy winds that accompanied a thunderstorm in western Washtenaw County on Thursday caused damage to several properties in Dexter Township.

Area fire departments were dispatched near 12651 Island Lake Road around 5:30 p.m., where heavy winds knocked trees into at least one barn and several roads.

Marc Breckenridge, Washtenaw County director of emergency management said as of Friday morning crews were working to repair isolated tree damage and downed trees in the area of Island Lake Road, Waterloo and Lima Center.

Initial calls came in reporting a tornado touchdown. However, Breckenridge said that has not been confirmed.

"It was not a tornado, but it may have been some isolated wind damage," Breckinridge told Ann Arbor.com. "From what I'm hearing, there were some trees knocked down. Usually, if it's an isolated event, the fire department handles it."

Jim Kaercher, owner of on Island Lake Road, said the storm caused significant damage to the farm.

"The force of the wind snapped the top half of an 85-foot pine tree and sheared off two 25-foot light poles at the base," he said. "I have to believe there was some sort of tornado activity in the atmosphere."

Kaercher said his son Patrick actually saw a funnel cloud form near the farm while watching the storm from his bedroom window.

Down the road, winds toppled a large walnut tree and destroyed a metal shed in the front yard in the Lesser Family Farm. The storm also flipped two wagons, but there was no damage to the family's 1832 farm house.

"The house is OK. We're OK. The barns are OK, my birthday's Friday, and this is the best present I could have," Amy Lesser told Ann Arbor.com.

Kaercher said he and his wife will spend most of the weekend cleaning up the farm in preparation for a birthday party and several visits from tour groups next week.

"Thankfully the fish stayed in the pond," he said. "After last night and the March 15 tornado, Dexter's had enough storms for now. I swear you have to be a storm chaser in Kansas in order to make this stuff up."

Kaercher, a member of Dexter United Methodist Church, said as soon as parishioners heard about the storm, volunteers showed up to help clear debris.

"Bless the DUMC volunteers who just started showing up with their saws," he said. "What an incredible church family."

Parishioner Traci Sikora who lives in Dexter Crossing, was one of several volunteers who helped clear trees from the trout farm's driveway after the storm, and said she was relieved that no one was injured.

"There was some massive tree damage," she said. "We spent a couple of hours clearing trees from the driveway so customers could leave Spring Valley."

Sikora said she didn't know about the storm until a friend told her that there were preliminary news reports of another tornado touching down in the township.

"I thought, 'here we go again,'" she said. "Luckily if there was a tornado, it was very small in caliber."

A that struck the Dexter area caused more than $9 million in damages.

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