Update (12:35 p.m.): The National Weather Service's Grand Rapids Office has confirmed a tornado struck Kentwood. More details here.

Severe thunderstorms late Sunday night caused considerable damage in southern Kent County and authorities are advising people to stay away from storm-stricken locales, WZZM-13 and the National Weather Service's Grand Rapids office report this morning.

The storms hit the Wyoming and Kentwood area late Sunday night and the National Weather Service is surveying areas to determine if damage was caused by a tornado, a microburst or straight-line winds.

Consumers Energy said this morning that about 20,000 electricity cutomers lost power, with about 9,600 of those in Kent County, including Wyoming and Kentwood. The Jackson-based utility said it could be until late Tuesday before power is fully restored.

The American Red Cross of West Michigan has opened a temporary Kentwood shelter at Kentwood Activities Center, 355 48th St. SE for affected people.

According to the National Weather Service's Grand Rapids office:

The severe storm moved across southern Kent County between 10:10 p.m. and 10:45 p.m., with most damage occurring in Kentwood between 10:20 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Numerous trees and power lines were downed, resulting in trees on top of structures and vehicles and thousands of people without power. Multiple structures collapsed, and some people were trapped inside. At least two people were taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries. Damaging winds in excess of 80 miles per hour are estimated, but a storm damage survey will be conducted Monday."

The storms knocked over recreational vehicles at Midway RV Center, 5590 S. Division Avenue, our news-gathering partner, WZZM-13, reported.

A roof of a strip mall at 44th Street and Kalamazoo Avenue SE collapsed during the storm. Grand Rapids police said a group of people was cleaning up after an event in a banquet hall, but they were rescued and no one was injured, WZZM-13 reported.

There were 4.8 inches of rain reported in a 24-hour period in Montcalm County near McBride as of this morning and 3 inches in Howard City. In Kent County, 1.72 inches of rain were reported near Cedar Springs and 1.2 inches in Grandville over a 12-hour period as of this morning. Near Jenison, ¼-inch pea-sized hail was reported Sunday night.

A flash flood warning is currently in effect in Ionia, Montcalm and Gratiot counties, according to the National Weather Service.

The American Red Cross of West Michigan offers the following safety tips for affected areas:

  • Avoid driving on flooded roads.
  • Listen to local radio or television stations or a NOAA weather radio for updated information and instructions. If you are away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damages. If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call 9-1-1.
  • Never go near a downed power line and never touch anything that a downed wire is touching. If you see a downed power line, call Consumers Energy at (800) 477-5050.
  • Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights when examining buildings. Avoid using candles. If you must use candles take extreme care. Keep candles away from any combustible materials. Place candles out of reach of children or pets. Extinguish all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Candles lit and left unattended lead to a large number of single family fires and fire deaths.
  • Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and flooded locales.