Chuck Burns and his wife, Sue, were inside their home on East Grand River Avenue when they heard wood cracking soon before the roof was torn off Monday, June 22. Their living quarters is located in the upper level of Clippers Hair Design and About You, a salon.
 

Continuing coverage on Michigan storms:
— Live updates: Dangerous tornado touches down near Millington

PORTLAND, MI — A Portland man said he and his wife are thankful to be alive after a tornado ripped the roof off their home while they were inside.

Chuck Burns and his wife, Sue, were inside their home in the 1300 block of East Grand River Avenue when they heard wood cracking just before the roof was torn off Monday, June 22. Their living space is in the building’s second level above Clippers Hair Design and About You, a salon.

All was calm before that. Their daughter-in-law had said over the phone it was raining heavily at her home across town, but it was still quiet outside the couple’s East Grand River residence.

Within minutes, the rain started “going sideways,” Chuck Burns said.

“Briefly after that, we could hear the wood cracking in the house. When I heard that, I got up to go downstairs,” he said. “I got to the door and couldn’t go any farther because that’s when the roof blew off and I felt like I was being pulled, so I’m hanging onto the doorknob and hanging onto the chair.”

Chuck Burns said he hung on tight while the home shook and wood cracked. His wife laid on the ground in their living room. A large beam fell and landed over her. She suffered a minor leg injury.

The roof came off in two sections. Along with the roof, two walls were destroyed.

“I’m basically out of a home. We’re out of a place to live,” Chuck Burns said.

No one was injured in the salon below, which has rented the space from Chuck Burns for four years. Staff and clients found shelter in the bathroom.

The couple lives across the street from a Goodwill store that collapsed during the storm. A mother and two young children were trapped inside and later rescued. They were not injured.

Chuck Burns, left, and son, Brandon Burns, attend to wife and mother, Sue Burns, minor injuries to her ankle and foot that occurred during the severe storm that came through Portland Monday, June 22, 2015, leaving them with a roofless house and devastation to their entire home in Portland, Mich. (Taylor Ballek | MLive.com) 

 

Possible tornado touchdown in Portland, Mich.
MLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa reports from Portland, Mich., where a tornado possibly touched down in the 1300 block of East Grand River Avenue. The National Weather Service will survey the damage to confirm.

Two people also were trapped in the nearby Rite Aid.

Authorities have urged people who don’t live in Portland to stay away from the area while police and firefighters continue to assess damaged buildings and assist residents. It wasn’t immediately known how many people are displaced.

Chuck and Sue Burns were able to exit the home on their own. They plan to stay with family.

The damage is “unreal,” and the couple has a lot of work ahead of them, Chuck Burns said.

“We’re thankful we’re alive,” he said.

It could have been worse, Sue Burns said.

“That beam could’ve killed me,” she said.

Angie Jackson covers public safety and breaking news for MLive/The Grand Rapids Press. Email her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter.

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