Severe thunderstorms cause extensive damage in Dowagiac area
DOWAGIAC — It was a bachelor party that Mark Ullrich and Rob Rivera will not soon forget.
Chicagoland natives Ullrich and Rivera were attending a mutual friend’s bachelor party at a lake house off the shores of Magician Lake in Sister Lakes when severe thunderstorms rolled into the area Saturday night.
“We were all just hanging out,” Ullrich said. “The weather had been inclement all day, so we didn’t think anything of it when the wind and rain started picking up. Within maybe 30 seconds or so, it was over and done with. Thank God none of us were out by the water where everything got torn to bits.”
“Every single one of us was in the screen room,” Rivera said. “We went from thinking it might be a tornado to believing it was a tornado.”
When the group reached the front of the property, they saw the entire neighborhood was covered in debris and downed trees and power lines. All five cars owned by party members had been totaled.
“We looked around and the power lines were ripped off the side of the house,” Ullrich said. “You couldn’t see anybody’s cars, just trees.”
Ullrich and Rivera’s experience was shared by many in and around Sister Lakes, as several homes have experienced extensive damage and thousands are waiting for power to return.
Arlene Anderson, who has lived in Sister Lakes for 35 years, had never seen anything like the storm that rolled through the area Saturday night.
“We’ve been here a long time,” said Anderson, who was out surveying the damage to her neighborhood near Dewey Lake. “We have never seen this sort of damage before. Trees were uprooted in different directions. It looks like a tornado must have come through here.”
The Sister Lakes Fire Department — with assistance from Trues Towing and Recovery, Pride Care EMS, Cass County Sheriff’s office, Cass County Office of Emergency Management and A1 Tree Experts — spent several hours Saturday night and Sunday morning removing trees and opening roads so that residents would have access to and from their homes.
According to the department’s Facebook page, department officials are meeting with the Cass County Office of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service today to survey the area.
“At this time, we cannot confirm what type of weather event happened but it was violent and fast-moving,” the Facebook post read. “We will share more information as we get it.”
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