More than $300,000 raised for family of 3-year-old killed in Livonia tornado

'This neighborhood is a strong neighborhood'
Posted at 12:12 AM, Jun 07, 2024

LIVONIA, Mich. (WXYZ) — It’s been all hands on deck Thursday in Livonia, just one day after the city was hit by an EF1 tornado that killed a 3-year-old boy and left his mother critically injured.

Neighbors have lent a hand to one another cleaning up debris and have wrapped their arms around a grieving family.

Three-year-old Cooper Drake was killed when a tree crashed into his family’s home, pinning him and his mother Corinne. His sibling, less than 2 weeks old, was also in the home but survived.

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As of Thursday evening, two online fundraisers for the family collectively, found HERE and HERE, had raised more than $300,000.

The Livonia Kids and Families Foundation and the Livonia Firefighters Union have also each committed $5,000 for funeral expenses. The Livonia First Responders foundation is also accepting donations on the family’s behalf.

“The outpouring from the community and willingness to give and the generosity has been overwhelming,” said city of Livonia director of communicaitons Kristen Houchins.

VIDEO: Tornado kills toddler in Livonia, critically injures mother:

Tornado kills toddler in Livonia, mother in critical condition after tree crushes home

“This neighborhood is a strong neighborhood," neighbor Michael Medlin said. "People stick together and help each other quite a bit.”

Medlin was home Wednesday when the tornado rolled through his neighborhood of 15 years. He was riding his bike around on Thursday evening.

VIDEO: WXYZ meteorologist Mike Taylor explains non-supercell tornadoes:

WXYZ meteorologist Mike Taylor explains that Livonia tornado was a 'non-supercell tornado'

“What does it look like now compared to what it looked like last night," I asked Livonia resident Michael Medlin.

"Much better," he answered. "But, still the face of destruction.”

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“Wind like I've never seen before, rain sideways," Medline said of the storm. "It was just a mess, lot of damage."

While the neighborhood streets Thursday were already mostly cleared, the scene at Rotary Park was a bit different. Downed trees and branches still scattered the park and two pavilions are a total loss.

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“Just heartbreaking and devastating," longtime Livonia resident Cheryl Gronau said as she stared at their park where he nieces once played. "It’s destroyed."

The park is also home to the city’s universally accessible playground. With so much damage, the city says it will be a while until the park reopens.

VIDEO: Drive through a Livonia neighborhood after a tornado hit the area on Wednesday:

Driving through Livonia neighborhood after Wednesday's tornado

"The playground is for all abilities, so that’s a tough one for us to have closed down for a little while,” Houchins said. "Especially coming into the summer season and school closing at the end of the week."

Power was restored for many of the homes late Thursday evening.