Saturday, December 2, 2023

Severe thunderstorms hit MSU

August 25, 2023
Debris scattered and trees downed in the aftermath of a thunderstorm in East Lansing photographed on Aug. 25, 2023.
Debris scattered and trees downed in the aftermath of a thunderstorm in East Lansing photographed on Aug. 25, 2023. —
Photo by Denille Reid | The State News

Michigan State University issued a severe weather warning last night after a heavy thunderstorm hit the East Lansing area. Several messages sent through the MSU Alert System told those in the area to avoid going outdoors and to take shelter away from windows.

The National Weather Service reported wind gusts up to 80 miles per hour at around 9 p.m. last night. 

While Ingham county activated tornado sirens, MSU’s campus did not experience a tornadic storm. NWS officials will be surveying damages today in central Kent County and northeast Ingham county from what they suspect to be two tornadoes that hit those areas. 

Damages in MSU

Infrastructure Planning and Facilities communications manager Fred Woodhams said there are currently no significant road or parking lot closures on campus. 

Students can expect to see fallen branches “here and there,” Woodhams said, but the IPF team has cleared most debris affecting traffic. Woodhams estimated it will take until sometime next week for campus to be completely cleared.

Several MSU buildings south of main campus lost power, including the Tree Research Center, the Food Processing Complex and the South Engineering Research Complex. These buildings use a separate power grid than MSU, which was compromised during the storm.

The basement of Mason Hall flooded, and a window in a women’s restroom in Wonders Hall broke and was later repaired. MSUPD spokesperson Dana Whyte said the damage to residence halls was minimal, and is being resolved as soon as possible.

Donnie Prudden, who works for disaster recovery company Belfor Property Management, said his coworkers were on campus from midnight to 6 AM trying to manage damages from the storm. 

Earlier this morning, Prudden and a few others arrived at Mason Hall to help mitigate flooding damages. Water leaked into a main hallway and 13 rooms.

“It came off the roof, down the storm drain, and I guess there was a big puddle that started around (the side of the building),” Prudden said. “Then it seeped through the walls.”

Prudden’s team is using a fleet of specialty equipment to extract water from the area. The affected rooms will also have dehumidifiers running to dry them out over the next two weeks. 

Woodhams estimates additional repair work will take another week or two after that. Residents of those rooms have been relocated elsewhere.

What students can do

Whyte recommends downloading the SafeMSU app, which gives users steps to take during storms and lists nearby buildings to access. SafeMSU is also connected to the MSU Alert System, which sends out information about campus emergencies. 

Communication preferences for the MSU Alert System can be changed at 

Woodhams said students should avoid parking next to branches that have fallen onto parking lots so that IPF has the space to later remove them. He also said to stay far away from down power lines that might be in the county.

Woodhams’ team has already ensured the safety of power lines on campus.

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