Gaŗezers suffers damage from storm that spawned May 29 tornado

Storm damage at Gaŗezers

Two trees, one of which landed on the roof, partially block access to the Kronvalds Hall at the Latvian center Gaŗezers. Dozens of trees were uprooted during the May 29 storm that also damaged some buildings at the center in south central Michigan. (Photo by Māra Kore, courtesy of Gaŗezers)

This year’s “Supertalka” at the Latvian center Gaŗezers in south central Michigan could use some extra help after strong winds uprooted dozens of trees and damaged several buildings during the late afternoon of May 29, according to administrators.

Gaŗezers, located in St. Joseph County about 5 miles (8 kilometers) west of Three Rivers, Mich., is in an area that was hit by severe storms, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) office for northern Indiana. An EF1 tornado, with winds ranging from 94-104 mph, is confirmed to have touched down north of Three Rivers, but no report has been made that it might earlier have hit Gaŗezers.

However, the same storm that spawned the tornado appears to have caused the damage to the Latvian property.

The storm began about 4 p.m. local time, Māra Kore, the information and development director for Gaŗezers, told Latvians Online in an email.

“The storm came up quickly,” she said, “but it also passed very fast.”

No injuries were reported at Gaŗezers, Kore said, in part because many people who might have been at the center were attending the American Latvian Association’s Sports Championship in Cleveland, Ohio, or a large church confirmation ceremony in Indianapolis.

Weather service and emergency management officials conducted a damage assessment in the area on May 30. They found that straight line winds were responsible for felling hundreds of trees beginning in an area just north of Long Lake (where Gaŗezers is located), according to the NWS.

Many homes in the area were damaged by falling trees, while the wind also blew shingles off roofs. The Latvian-owned Atbalsis resort located near Gaŗezers lost electrical power but suffered little damage, Kore said. Most of the damage was confined to the north side of the Gaŗezers territory and the Latvian residential area nearby.

Gaŗezers administrators were still assessing the damage and were expecting to learn May 31 what repairs will be covered by insurance. It still is not known if Gaŗezers will need to organize a donation drive to help offset costs of fixing the property, Kore said.

All events and activities, including the summer high school program, are expected to take place as scheduled, she added.

The “Supertalka” work bee is scheduled June 4 at the center, 57732 Lone Tree Road, Three Rivers, Mich. For further information, visit the Gaŗezers website,

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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