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Tornado hits south of Grand Rapids


Photo from WOODTV.com

Photo from WOODTV.com

By Judy Reed

 

Photo from WOODTV.com

Photo from WOODTV.com

The National Weather Service confirmed Monday that the damage done just south of Grand Rapids during thunderstorms on Sunday evening, July 6, was due to a tornado.

Calls began pouring into Kent County’s 911 dispatch about 10:30 p.m. reporting roofs caved in, power lines and trees down, and people trapped in homes and vehicles.

The tornado reportedly developed near 64th Street and Burlingame in Byron Center about 10:20 p.m, and traveled 6.25 miles, through Wyoming and Kentwood, ending at 28th Street and Breton. It was on the ground for about 10 minutes and produced significant damage. The NWS rated the tornado an EF-1, with maximum wind speeds from 100-110 mph. Its width was 300 to 400 yards wide. There were six injuries, and no fatalities. It was the first EF-1 in Kent County since 2001, and the first tornado since 2006, when an EF-0 hit Caledonia.

Daniel Cobb, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said it was definitely a tornado, and not straight-line winds, explaining during a news conference that the debris they surveyed had the classic signature of a tornado.

People have questioned why there was no warning with the tornado. Cobb explained that the tornado developed near the ground and grew upward. And, because of the time delay between radar scans, they didn’t realize it was there until they picked up the debris on radar that lifted in Kentwood. It was already lifting back up moments later, too late for a warning.

“They always want to get it right, and it kills them if it doesn’t play out right,” he explained. “If they warned on every scan that looked like a possible tornado, they would be warning all the time. We prefer to wait for two scans. We are trying to say with severe thunderstorms that a tornado is possible, and warn on the big tornadoes.”

“We are very successful at detecting big tornadoes that blow your house down,” he noted.

He also noted that these smaller tornadoes are not rare, but not frequent either. Here it just happened in a populated area. “You have to respect Mother Nature. Always be inside during a storm,” he urged.

On Wednesday, July 9, the NWS also confirmed another tornado that spawned from the storms that moved through Sunday evening and Monday morning, July 6-7. This one was an EF-0 in Ionia County, and developed about 12:16 a.m., July 7, just a couple of hours after the one near Grand Rapids. It started just east of Sunfield Highway, and south of Reeder Road. It went about one mile, ending just west of South Keefer highway, north of Reeder Road. It lasted about 4 minutes. One home lost roofing material and five farm buildings were damaged along Reeder Road. Tree and crop damage also occurred along the path of the tornado.

 

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Cold case team makes arrest; searches for another suspect


By Judy Reed

The Kent Metro Cold Case team is making progress on several cold cases, including an arrest last week, and the identification of a victim and possible suspect in another.

Last week the team arrested Andrew Ramon Scott, 27, of Lewisville, Texas, on an open murder and felony firearm charge in the 2004 Grand Rapids murder of Tahari Braggs, 25. Braggs was driving his vehicle on Alexander St. when he stopped to talk with occupants of another vehicle on the street. Shots were fired from the suspect vehicle, striking Braggs, and the other car left the scene. Braggs died from multiple gun shot wounds. Investigators determined the incident was a result of an altercation that transpired a day earlier between Braggs and acquaintances.  After a lengthy investigation, the case went cold, but was reopened in 2009. It is the ninth arrest made by the cold case team since it was formed in 2006.

Just this week the team identified the victim in a 2001 homicide that occurred in southwest Grand Rapids in 2001. On November 13, 2001, the Grand Rapids Police Department investigated a double stabbing that occurred on Ritzema Ct  SW, near Grandville Ave SW.   Officers found a Hispanic male fatally stabbed and a second stabbing victim with non-life threatening injuries. The first victim had no identification on him. The second victim,  Simon Mata, indicated he and the first man had been stabbed by a Hispanic male known to him as “Guero.”  Through the use of interpreters, Mata told investigators he did not know the victim or assailant’s real name. Investigators believed the victims and suspect were illegal immigrants from Mexico, but investigative leads were exhausted in the case in an attempt to identify the victim and suspect.

cold case suspectIn March 2011, the cold case team reopened the case, and resubmitted the victim’s fingerprints into a larger database, where they learned his identity. The victim has been identified as Gerado Piedra-Amaya, a 32-year-old Hispanic male from Durango, Mexico.  He entered the country illegally on February 19, 2001. The victim had been living in the Grand Rapids area for at least three months prior to his murder.

Investigators are seeking information from witnesses who might provide information on the victim or suspect. Suspect is a light skinned Hispanic male with light brown hair, very thin sideburns, a thin, barely visible, mustache, and a small goatee.  At the time of the homicide he was around 24 years of age, about 5-feet 5-inches tall, 155 pounds, and had hazel eyes.

At the time of the homicide he was known to frequent the Heartside area of Grand Rapids and sleep under viaducts along the U.S. 131 corridor.  He is believed to be an undocumented worker from Mexico.

Please contact the Kent Metro Cold Case Unit at (616) 632-6123.

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MEOWtrageous


Carol’s Ferals & Friendlies presents MEOWtrageous Cat & Kitten Adoption Extravaganza on Saturday Sep. 19, Noon-6 p.m. at Centerpointe Mall, Grand Rapids. Join Carol for fun, including raffle prizes, gift certificates, gift baskets, mall merchandise and more! Plus, get a free raffle ticket by bringing in a donation of cat food, supplies or ink cartridges!

There will be:

  • A yummy refreshment table
  • On-site cat & kitten adoptions
  • A kitten playroom – come play with crazy kittens of all ages!
  • Cat care education
  • Feral/Trap Neuter Return Awareness
  • Kid & Pet Portraits!

Bring your children for live 8-minute-portraits by Laird Smith. Bring clear, sharp head & shoulder photos of your furry children for pet portraits. For safety’s sake, NO pets at the event!

The event will feature Tyson, the kitten born with no eyeballs!

The purpose of Carol’s Ferals is to provide TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) services to people who wish to have neighborhood or farm cats, both feral and stray, spayed/neutered and returned. www.CarolsFerals.org · dollmouse@aol.com

Carol’s Ferals · PO Box 150186 · Grand Rapids, MI 49515-0186

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