I lived in West Bloomfield when it happened and it was just a stroke of luck that my husband and I were not driving through the intersection where it hit that night. On that fateful Saturday in West Bloomfield, my husband and I went to an early dinner at Victoria's Station in a nearby community.
My husband had recently returned home from a three-week business trip to Denver, Colorado. I had gone out to see him while he was there. One night in Denver we went to dinner and after dinner I had a drink that had alcohol, cocoa and coffee. It was very good. I don't remember what it was called.
After dinner at Victoria's Station I asked the waiter if they could make the drink that I'd had in Denver. My husband was surprised because I almost never ordered an after dinner drink. At best I would have a glass of wine with dinner. That drink may have saved our lives.
We left the restaurant and started to drive home. We drove up Middlebelt Rd. in West Bloomfield and were making a left turn onto Maple Road when we noticed that there were people in the street and a lot of commotion. A little ways down the road we found we couldn't get through and people said a tornado had come through. We saw a house with the roof missing.
We turned the car around and decided that we would try and come home on another one of the north-south roads. We went down to 14 mile and headed west. We tried to go north on Farmington Road which was still a dirt road and not something that we normally would drive on. Halfway up the road there were power lines down and we had to turn around and go south again.
Meanwhile I'm getting concerned because our dog is at home alone and I'm wondering if our home is still OK. (This was before we had any children) We went on further west to drive to one of the other north-south roads. I can't remember which one we ended up taking but we were able to get back to our neighborhood, which was not hit.
Had we left the restaurant and driven home right after dinner it's quite likely that we would been driving through the intersection of Orchard Lake and Maple Road when the tornado was coming through. I think that's the only time in my life when the phrase 'I need a drink' paid off.
Several years ago a book about West Bloomfield history was written, ending with the tornado. It includes the comments of a young doctor who was on duty that night at the local ER. She just happens to be my personal physician. Next time I see her I'll have to ask her about her memories of that night.