Police: Don’t enter storm-damaged area

A road closed to everyone except locals in Wyoming after the storm and tornado. (July 10, 2014)

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities are telling gawkers to stay away from areas that sustained damage in Sunday night’s storm and tornado.

The EF-1 tornado left a line of property damage in its wake as touched down near the US-131/M-6 interchange, moved through parts of Wyoming and Kentwood, and then dissipated about six miles away near 28th Street.

All week, area residents have been dealing with the damage and cleanup. They have also been dealing with unwanted guests.

Signs surrounded storm-damaged areas clearly say that only local residents should enter. But curiosity is causing some to ignore those signs.

“It’s been horrible. It’s been really bad. Really bad,” resident Bob Russell said. “Our youth pastor from our church came by and said, ‘If they’re going to drive by, why don’t they stop and help a little bit?'”

The gawkers have sometimes been getting in the way of crews working to put things right.

“It just gets in the way,” Russell said. “You get five or six cars  parking in front of your house.”

Kentwood police have been posting patrols along 48th Street, ticketing people who have no business in the area but go around barricades anyway.

In Wyoming, officers have been keeping a close eye on blocked-off streets.

A police officer on the scene of a road closed in Wyoming after the storm and tornado. (July 10, 2014)
(An officer parked on a closed road in Wyoming after the storm and tornado. July 10, 2014)

“We understand the curiosity, but there’s also been quite a tragic event that has occurred,” Wyoming police Lt. Scott Beckman said.

On Crippen Avenue SW near Ideal Park — which was devastated by the storm — Wyoming police were stopping vehicles and making sure they had a legitimate reason to be in the area.

“We’re also making sure that there’s not any solicitors who are  coming through, trying to drum up business from some of the residents,” Beckman said.

For now, police say, people should simply avoid the area unless they need to be there.

“Right now, we need people to stay away and let our residents, let our utilities people and public works people continue the clean up,” Beckman said.

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