GRAND HAVEN TWP. — The wind that downed many trees in a pocket of Grand Haven Township was an isolated burst from a thunderstorm that popped up over Lake Michigan late Monday night, according to Brandon Hoving, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Grand Rapids.
“There was an isolated downburst of wind from that small thunderstorm that came off the lake ahead of the line of storms that was sinking down from the north,” he said.
Residents along Lakeshore Drive and Lincoln, Berkshire and Timber Dunes streets were busy Tuesday with the post-storm cleanup.
“Mom doesn’t know what to do,” 2-year-old Ellie Coveart said as she looked at her damaged swing set Tuesday morning. “I don’t know what to do.”
The youngster shrugged her shoulders as she and her mother, Kris, continued their tour around their storm-damaged yard at 12946 Lakeshore Ave.
“It came down,” the little girl said as she pointed at the top half of a tree flung across their front yard.
“It was scary,” her mom admitted, looking at the broken tree trunk that stopped just short of one of her children’s bedroom windows.
Kris Coveart said she, her husband and some of their children were watching the sky as the storm passed through Monday night.
“It was about 11:15,” she said as the sound of chain saws came from various directions in the distance on Tuesday.
When the tree dropped in the front yard, the couple rushed back into the house, rounded up their children and hustled into the basement.
“It wasn’t until this morning that we saw this,” Coveart said, pointing to the wooden swing and play set resting on its side.
The structure was so heavy that three people couldn’t budge it when they tried to move it a little bit, she said. But the wind picked it up, spun it around and dropped it down on its side.
“It’s broken,” Ellie added.
At 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, “we were out there in our pajamas yelling at cars so they wouldn’t go through,” Coveart said. She couldn’t believe people still tried to drive through the area despite their warnings and flashing emergency lights. A tree had fallen partially across the road and another tree across some wires.
Next door, Deb Leedom cut up branches, put them in a wheelbarrow, and cleared them from her driveway and the bike path. This was the fourth time in 21 years that they had some major tree damage, she said, although it was not as bad this year.
In 1999, a tree landed on the house, Leedom said. “Two summers ago, we lost eight trees in that storm. Our neighbor lost 12,” she added. “That’s what you get for living in the woods.”
Behind Leedom and around the corner, Paul Lampe watched as his landscaper cleared two large beech trees that had fallen across their private road.
“I’ve lived here 35 years,” Lampe said. “We lost 15 trees 20 years ago. We lost 30 trees two years ago.”
Two years ago, one tree fell on the house and another fell on an unattached garage, causing significant damage.
“We were lucky these fell away from the house,” Lampe said. “But we’re unlucky because insurance doesn’t cover the cleanup if it doesn’t hit the house.”
His landscaper, Kurt Bouchard of Quality Seasons Landscape & Trees of Coopersville, said it was like a wind tunnel in the area.
“The wind takes the same path all these years,” he said.
Bruce Elenbaas was one of many Timber Dunes residents cleaning up fallen trees on his property.
“I kind of wonder if it was a tornado,” he said. “We had a lot of hail. It was really strange.”
Hoving said that his office did not have reports of damage from anywhere else in West Michigan.