Tor­na­does wreak havoc in south­ern Louisiana

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD -

Hours af­ter a tor­nado struck east­ern New Or­leans on Tues­day, hatchet-wield­ing fire­fight­ers walked up and down the de­bris-strewn Chef Men­teur High­way, check­ing busi­nesses and homes to make sure no one was miss­ing or trapped.

“I’m home­less now,” said Mal­colm Bal­lard, 65, out­side the heav­ily dam­aged Royal Palms Mo­tel.

In­side, his room was ran­sacked; the fur­ni­ture and car­pet soaked by rain that poured in af­ter the storm blew open the door and broke the win­dows.

At least two other con­firmed tor­na­does touched down in south­ern Louisiana, wip­ing houses from their foun­da­tions, down­ing power lines and leav­ing 10,000 homes with­out elec­tric­ity be­fore mov­ing across the Deep South. Dozens of in­juries were re­ported, but no fa­tal­i­ties.

New Or­leans Mayor Mitch Lan­drieu said at least two of the in­jured were se­ri­ously hurt af­ter se­vere storms brought hail, high winds and twisters to the city.

The storm flipped over cars, tore roofs off homes, ripped through a gas sta­tion canopy, broke tall power poles off their foun­da­tions and flipped a food truck up­side-down. It left a couch rest­ing im­prob­a­bly on a pile of de­bris in the mid­dle of a road, and trapped a truck driver as power lines wrapped around his cab.

The wall of se­vere weather lit up radar and prompted tor­nado warn­ings across the re­gion on Tues­day. The na­tional Storm Pre­dic­tion Cen­ter in Nor­man, Ok­la­homa, said 2.7 mil­lion peo­ple in parts of Louisiana, Mis­sis­sippi and Alabama would be at the high­est risk.

Press Sec­re­tary Sean Spicer said the White House was mon­i­tor­ing the se­vere weather, and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump would be reach­ing out to lo­cal and state of­fi­cials through­out the day.

Kevin Bal­lard, 56, came to check on his older brother at the dam­aged mo­tel, but his own in­juries turned out to be worse. He was at an auto re­pair shop when the ap­par­ent tor­nado hit, col­laps­ing the shop around him. He had bruises and cuts on the back of his head and neck.

“I was stand­ing in front of the build­ing at first and I seen some­thing black, twist­ing,” Kevin Bal­lard said. “Tires and ev­ery­thing fell on the back of my neck and head.”

Yoshekia Brown lost ev­ery­thing to Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in 2005. Now she’s lost ev­ery­thing again: Three-quar­ters of her home in New Or­leans East is now col­lapsed.

Brown said she was at work when she got a weather alert on her phone. She looked at a weather map and re­al­ized it was her neigh­bour­hood, then drove home to check. On the way, her brother called and said, “Sis­ter, your house is gone.” She didn’t be­lieve it. “I lived in between two blighted prop­er­ties. One of those would have been gone be­fore my house,” she said. “It wasn’t real un­til I walked up. I can see into my liv­ing room. I can see into my front bed­room. It’s just gone. Like the movie Twis­ter.”

Luck­ily her 2-year-old son and three dogs have sur­vived, and her home was in­sured. She said she’s not sure what to do next, but “some­thing good has to come from this.”

Other twisters struck near the town of Don­ald­sonville and in the town of Kil­lian, Na­tional Weather Ser­vice me­te­o­rol­o­gist Danielle Man­ning said.

At least seven homes have been dam­aged in Liv­ingston Par­ish, north­west of New Or­leans, where other mi­nor in­juries were re­ported, said Brandi Janes, the deputy emer­gency pre­pared­ness di­rec­tor.

“Two of them are com­pletely gone... all the way to the ground,” she said, adding that crews were re­mov­ing trees from road­ways and work­ing with the Red Cross to get help to dam­aged ar­eas.

One warn­ing de­scribed a “large, ex­tremely dan­ger­ous and po­ten­tially deadly” twis­ter south of Ham­mond, Louisiana.

AP PHOTO

Eshon Trosclair holds her son Cam­ron Chap­i­tal af­ter a tor­nado tore through home while they were in­side Tues­day, Feb. 7, 2017 in the east­ern part of New Or­leans.

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