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Tornado hits Gaylord

An EF-3 tornado devastated the City of Gaylord last week. Photo from YouTube.com.

How to help

By Judy Reed

On May 20, the town of Gaylord was hit by the first EF-3 tornado in Michigan in 10 years. The last one was in Dexter, in 2012. 

There were two deaths and 44 injuries from the Gaylord tornado, with both deaths taking place in the Nottingham Forest Mobile Home Park, one of the first areas to be hit when the tornado touched down. 

According to the National Weather Service, the tornado was 200 yards wide—that’s twice as wide as a football field—and had maximum winds of 150 mph. It was on the ground for 20 minutes and traveled 16.6 miles. Its intensity varied between an EF-1, EF-2, and finally reached EF-3 around the City of Gaylord.

One of the many structures destroyed by the tornado in Gaylord. Photo from YouTube.com.

People are looking for ways to help those in Gaylord to recover, and the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan had some tips for everyone.

“Only donate to charities and fundraisers put on by organizations you know and trust,” says Lisa Frohnapfel, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. “Make sure the charity or organization actually has the means to provide relief to the community, in order to avoid scammers looking to take advantage of the situation.”

The BBB suggests starting with these well-known charities to provide assistance:

  • Otsego County United Way
  • American Red Cross-Michigan Region 

Crowdfunding campaigns are already being set up for those in need.  While some may be drawn to providing direct assistance to individuals, BBB Wise Giving Alliance recommends the following tips:

  • Give to people and organizations you know. It is safest to give to crowdfunding postings of people you personally know. If that is not possible, consider a posting that is being managed by an established charitable organization that can be checked out. 
  • See if the posting describes how funds will be used. Vague descriptions of how the collected funds will be used should also be met with caution. Thoughtful collections will take the added step of identifying and verifying needs before money is raised.
  • Don’t assume pictures represent an official connection to the person or family identified. 

Report any suspicious donation requests to bbb.org/scamtracker. Visit BBB’s Give.org for more tips on safe donations.

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