Tornado leaves destruction at Ideal Park

The damage at Ideal Park in Wyoming. (July 8, 2014)

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Wyoming’s Ideal Park was devastated in Sunday night’s tornado.

The park off Crippen Avenue south of 54th Street is not far from where the tornado first touched down in the area of US-131 and M-6.

>>Inside Photos of the damage at Ideal Park

“The park is gone,” Wyoming resident Kevin Hoogerhyde said. “It’s just devastating. It’s hard to recognize it.”

Hoogerhyde, who lives just a few blocks away from the park on heavily damaged Houghey Avenue, said he has been going to this park since the 1970s. He picked black raspberries there Sunday before the storm came through.

There’s a reason, he says, they call it Ideal Park.

“It’s a beautiful park. It brings a lot of people in,” Hoogerhyde said. “Perfect for a family picnic — and I see that every Sunday I walk through here, people just having picnics.”

But all that was left Tuesday was playground equipment, the walking bridges and twisted trees.

“It’s amazing how four seconds it can just do all this damage,” Hoogerhyde said.

The city shut down the park and said it will remained closed until further notice.

Just east of the park on Haughey Avenue, cleanup was a team effort.

“We have family from all over coming in, we have neighbors helping neighbors here, our next-door neighbors had a church group come in, a whole troop yesterday, and they worked all day cutting trees,” resident Jackie Mobley said.

Down the street, Donna Bergakker could again see out her front window thanks to her nephew and five guys she doesn’t know.

“It’s an amazing amount of progress. You couldn’t see our yard. The trees at some places were like six feet high,” Bergakker said.

And when people heard a raccoon kit yowling from a storm drain, they took time out from cleaning up to free him.

The street, which was impassable due to downed trees Monday, was open Tuesday. Utility crews continued to work to restore power, cable, Internet and phone services.

“The destruction was mind-boggling, but you’ve got to hand it to them, they were out here right away and they were cleaning the side streets up to get through,” Hoogerhyde said.

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