High winds cause damage to buildings, down trees

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 8, 2024

 Crews work to clear a downed tree at Paxton and Saratoga streets after a windstorm April 17.

Crews work to clear a downed tree at Paxton and Saratoga streets after a windstorm April 17.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


FERNDALE — A severe storm on April 17 caused damage to several buildings in Ferndale.

The biggest building to suffer major damage was Autumn House, located at 500 E. Nine Mile Road, which is a public housing structure with the Ferndale Housing Commission.

“Part of the roof was blown off,” said Ferndale Police Chief Dennis Emmi. “There’s substantial water damage. … There was also residential and other commercial properties with damaged roofs, some very large downed trees, wires and transformers that were blown, mostly on the east side and north east side, kind of like (the) northeast quadrant of the city.”

Fire Chief Teresa Robinson stated that the calls to the department were extremely low, but the damage that was done was “so isolated to an area of the city that the west side of Ferndale didn’t even know there was damage to the east side of Ferndale.”

“It was just really weird circumstances because it was so isolated to a few block radius,” she said. “We did not have a lot of calls. We had a couple wires down. DTE was on scene very quickly. There were crews in the area. They were properly addressing the wires, our (Department of Public Works) crew was on the ground, very quickly starting to clear big trees that came down on a roadway. They cleared those first and any of the other ones that would be our responsibility. We did not get called to any homes with regard to damage on the Fire Department side.”
Robinson said only one person was reported injured, a resident at Autumn House who suffered minor injuries from falling debris.

“We did transport that patient in an ambulance to get them checked out — just precautionary. We wanted to make sure they were OK,” she said.

The Police, Fire and Public Works departments worked to clean the roads and sidewalks of debris.

According to James Jameson, director of Public Works, six roadways were blocked, three because of fallen trees and three because of roof debris. Outside of Autumn House, the roof damage was found to mainly be on commercial buildings, including Voyager and Tire Outlet.

“(Tire Outlet’s) roof actually blew on top of Voyager,” he said. “I don’t think it’s done much damage to the roof, but the roof landed on them.

“Part of (Autumn House’s) roof flew off and then spread debris all across Nine Mile,” he continued. “And then Vester and Burdette, because of the roof, it also snapped an electrical pole right next to Voyager.”

The damage done was attributed to high winds that Jameson believed hit 70 to 75 mph.

“What’s crazy is you can kind of track it,” he said. “Like, we had a large tree that came down at Paxton and Saratoga, and then if you look at Paxton and Saratoga and then you look up to the map where Vogue Vintage is, you can kind of trace a path where it just blew from that corner, straight across … and all the roofs that were damaged were in between those two locations.”