tornadoes in the New Orleans area

Tornado confirmed in New Orleans

December 15, 2022
12 mins read

The deadly storms that slammed into Louisiana spawned at least two tornadoes in the New Orleans area on Wednesday, killing one person in St. Charles Parish, destroying homes in Gretna and landing a blow to the same part of Arabi where another tornado tore through less than a year ago.

Public safety officials and residents of several parishes were surveying damage and searching homes Wednesday night. In St. Charles, Parish President Matthew Jewell said rescue teams were going door-to-door in Killona, a neighborhood on the west bank that includes a number of mobile homes.

One person was dead there and at least eight were injured after a tornado hit around 2:30 p.m.

A little over an hour later, as the line of thunderstorms moved east, a second tornado struck in Gretna. Several homes along 9th Street were crushed or pushed off of their foundations. Debris was scattered across streets and a toppled truck lay on its side in a front yard as residents checked on neighbors.

2 schools in Jefferson Parish will be closed due to storm damage

From CNN’s Joe Sutton and Amanda Musa

Two schools in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana — West Jefferson High School and L.H. Marrero Middle School — will be closed Thursday due to damage following severe weather Wednesday evening, according to Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng. 

Crews are currently assessing damage at all parish schools, she said.

Sheng did not say how long the schools will be closed.

Meanwhile, Arabi Elementary School in St. Bernard Parish will be closed Thursday due to a loss of power, according to a news release. It will reopen Friday, it said.

All other public schools in St. Bernard Parish remain open.

Tornado caused “catastrophic destruction” in city of Gretna, mayor says

Mayor Belinda Constant and Chief Arthur Lawson
Mayor Belinda Constant and Chief Arthur Lawson (CNN)

As many as 5,000 structures were likely damaged when a tornado struck the town of Gretna, across the Mississippi River from New Orleans, on Wednesday, Mayor Belinda Constant said.

“We’ve seen catastrophic destruction from both ends of the city,” Constant told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Constant added that it is too dark to do a reliable damage survey. 

The biggest concern is the number of destroyed buildings, Police Chief Arthur Lawson told Cooper.

“I believe tomorrow, when daylight comes, we’re going to see a lot more damage than we see now,” he said.

4 people taken to hospitals after damage in the Algiers area of New Orleans, official says

Authorities in New Orleans are currently assessing damage after a severe storm that prompted a tornado warning struck the area.

There is damage in the Algiers neighborhood, which on the west bank of the Mississippi River, Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness told CNN in a phone interview. 

At least one house collapsed in the area and other residences and businesses have been impacted, Arnold said.

Four residents were taken to area hospitals and they are in stable condition, according to the director. Power is being restored citywide and crews are actively doing damage assessments, he added.

“I can’t process that any of this is real.” Tornado leaves New Iberia resident without a home

Lizzie Taylor shared images of damage from the storm in New Iberia, Lousiana.
Lizzie Taylor shared images of damage from the storm in New Iberia, Lousiana. (Courtesy Lizzie Taylor)

Lizzie Taylor left her home in New Iberia, Louisiana, about 5 minutes before a tornado destroyed it. She now is left without a place to live.

“All of the units are destroyed,” Taylor told CNN. “The landlord let us know he is going to have them demolished.”

Taylor says she and her family have lived in their apartment for about a year.

“I can’t process that any of this is real,” She said, “It just isn’t sinking in.”

As a nurse, Taylor’s first instinct was to help her neighbors. She says she did what she could to assist people that were injured by debris.

For now, Taylor and her family are staying with another family until they can figure out another living situation.

New Iberia, with a population of about 28,000 people, is about 20 miles south of Lafayette.

Jefferson Parish president to issue a state of emergency following severe storms

Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng told CNN affiliate WDSU that she plans to declare a state of emergency.

Currently, Sheng said she does not know of any fatalities in Jefferson Parish but that significant damage is spread across the area, including downed power lines. 

Much of Jefferson Parish is without power, she said.

Jefferson, which neighbors New Orleans, has a population of 430,000 people, according to the census.

At least 3 people have died due to severe storms, Louisiana Department of Health says

At least three people have died due to severe storm-related events, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

This includes a 56-year-old woman in St. Charles Parish, who died after a tornado hit her home in the Killona area, the department said.

“This brings the total number of confirmed Louisiana storm-related deaths due to this storm event to 3 at this time,” the health department tweeted.

View the tweet, below:

Latest watch: 2 million in path of tornadoes, hail and wind

A new tornado watch including Pensacola, Panama City and Montgomery is in effect until 1 a.m. CDT, according to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center. 

The watch, which covers over 2 million people, includes southern Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and southwest Georgia.

It calls for several tornadoes, quarter-size hail and wind gusts up to 65 mph.

Tornado touched down at 4 p.m. in Arabi, St. Bernard Parish sheriff says

St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann said the tornado touched down in Arabi, Louisiana, around 4:00 p.m. local time Wednesday evening, leaving behind about two miles of destruction.

Ten people have been rescued due to severe weather, But no serious injuries or deaths have been reported, Pohlmann said during a news conference.

Officials will be out conducting search and rescue efforts throughout the night, Pohlmann said. Much of the St. Bernard Parish is without power, he added.

St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis says a complete assessment of the damage will be done Thursday but said he does not know of any buildings that have been totally destroyed in the parish.

Jefferson Parish official says power restoration in some areas is “not going to happen quickly”

Scott Walker, Jefferson Parish Councilman
Scott Walker, Jefferson Parish Councilman (Courtesy Scott Walker)

Councilman Scott Walker said restoring power in some parts of Jefferson Parish could take time, as many power lines are down.

“In this path that we saw, there are a lot of power lines down and that’s not going to happen quickly, the restoration there,” Walker told CNN affiliate WVUE. “If there’s some incidental outages that aren’t connected to the power lines being down, that’ll come up a lot faster, but if you have power lines down, that could be well into tonight, tomorrow before that power comes back.” 

While speaking outside of a damaged Winn Dixie store, Walker said he saw at least a mile-long path of debris.

“Power lines down, homes severely damaged, rooftops ripped off,” he said in a video shared online describing the scene. “It is an extensive damage scene and a long path of destruction here on the west bank.”

He urged people in affected areas to stay inside as the electric services company, Entergy, currently tries to restore power.

“Don’t go out in this,” he told WVUE.

More than 40 tornadoes were reported in the past 2 days, according to the Storm Prediction Center

A tornado passes a highway in New Iberia, Louisiana, on Wednesday, December 14, in this still image obtained from social media video.
A tornado passes a highway in New Iberia, Louisiana, on Wednesday, December 14, in this still image obtained from social media video. Mike Ibert via Reuters

There have been 18 tornadoes reported so far Wednesday, according to the Storm Prediction Center, all in Mississippi and Louisiana. 

This is in addition to two dozen reported tornadoes Tuesday across Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. 

The National Weather Service will be conducting damage surveys in the coming days to offer more details on the strength of each potential tornado.

More than 50,000 customers without power in 2 states

As severe weather continues to impact Louisiana and Mississippi, thousands of customers are currently in the dark this evening.  

There are 54,413 customers without power in both states, the majority in Louisiana, according to PowerOutage.us.

Gretna mayor says aftermath from severe weather is “worse than Hurricane Ida”

City of Gretna Mayor Belinda Constant told CNN affiliate WDSU that the aftermath from severe weather is worse than when Hurricane Ida hit.

Gretna said her city suffered heavy damage and that half of the city is without power. 

“This is worse than Hurricane Ida,” she said.

“Houses collapsed, (roofs) are gone, cars (are) turned over… there are power lines everywhere,” Constant said Wednesday evening. “There are live wires everywhere.”

Constant says city council members will meet Thursday to see if they need to declare a state of emergency. Constant also says city hall will be closed to allow for recovery work.

Gretna, part of Jefferson Parish, is on the west of the Mississippi and across from New Orleans.  

Around 14 million face severe weather risk, National Weather Service forecasts

About 14 million people from Louisiana to parts of Georgia face some level of risk of severe weather Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center.

At least 22 tornado reports have been made since Tuesday from Oklahoma and Texas to Louisiana and Mississippi, including 17 from Tuesday to 6 a.m. CT Wednesday, and at least five since 6 a.m. CT Wednesday, including in Louisiana’s New Iberia.

In the small Union Parish town of Farmerville, Louisiana, at least 20 people were injured when a tornado struck Tuesday night, Farmerville police Detective Cade Nolan said.

Parts of an apartment complex and a mobile home park in the Farmerville area were demolished, with downed trees and other debris littering a road and fields, a CNN crew saw Wednesday. In speaking with residents, CNN correspondents were told by many that the storm sounded like a train rolling through their homes.

“Every little creak and noise, I mean, it seemed like it was right on top of us,” Beth Tabor told CNN’s Derek Van Dam. “It was pretty bad, just hearing … everything flying around and you can’t do anything about it.”

Tabor said her home was “absolutely” damaged in the storm.

Video shows tornado moving through New Orleans

Video caught by CNN affiliate WDSU’s tower cam shows a tornado moving through the Lower Ninth Ward and Arabi in New Orleans:

“Major damage” reported in Arabi, officials say

Officials in St. Bernard Parish are currently assessing damage in Arabi where they say there is “major damage.”

“Parish officials have confirmed a tornado touched down in Arabi causing major damage,” the St. Bernard Parish Government said on Twitter. “Firefighters and police are assessing the damage. Please stay out of the area until further notice. Thank you.”

1 person dead and several others injured after tornado, St. Charles Parish officials say

St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell said that there was one fatality and several injured after a tornado touched down in the community of Killona on Wednesday afternoon.

“Tornado touched down at about 2:21 today (local time). everything happened really quickly,” he said.

Jewell said that residents were alerted via emergency siren and text message alert system after it was confirmed that it was a “touch-down tornado.”

“There is one confirmed fatality. 7 or 8 injuries at this time,” he said at a news conference

He added that approximately 475 residents are without power.

Sheriff Greg Champagne said the person killed by the tornado was a woman. He added that eight other people have non-life-threatening injuries.

The identity of the person who was killed was not immediately released, and the sheriff said he do not know the circumstances of her death. 

Champagne said the tornado was violent.

“There’s a piece of debris on the levee behind you that came from our firing range, 1.7 miles away,” he told reporters at the news conference.

“For the second time in two weeks, we’ve had a tornado touch down in St. Charles Parish,” Champagne said. “This one created quite a bit of devastation.”

Champagne said St. Charles Parish is reeling from repeated battles with the weather.

“This community got hit really hard during Ida,” he said, adding, “They didn’t need this again. I heard some residents saying they just can’t catch a break.”

“Large amounts of damage” reported by Jefferson Parish authorities

Authorities in Jefferson Parish are surveying storm damage in their area.

“Our Emergency Management Department is reporting large amounts of damage throughout the area, including: 600 Block of Manhattan Blvd., Gretna Near Hancock, 700 Block of Peters,700 Block of Lydia Ct,” a tweet from the Jefferson Parish Government said.

“Crews are investigating at this time. Further damage still being reported,” the tweet continued. 

The parish is asking residents to stay off the roads and warned of downed power lines. 

“There are multiple poles and down lines across the area. Please stay off the roads as emergency crews respond,” a tweet from the parish government said.

Over 20,000 are without power across the parish, according to PowerOutage.us.

A tornado warning was issued for the parish this afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. 

Louisiana governor declares state of emergency

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency after a tornado moved through New Orleans today.

The governor toured Caddo Parish where he surveyed damage, according to his Twitter.

“Earlier today I toured tornado damage in Caddo Parish, where I shared that I’ve declared a state of emergency to make sure assets are available for response,” Bel Edwards tweeted.

See the governor’s tweet, below:

Tornado confirmed in New Orleans, according to weather service

A confirmed tornado moved through New Orleans around 4 p.m. CST, according to the National Weather Service. 

A tornado-debris signature was evident on radar and numerous power flashes were seen on tower cameras as the storm moved through the eastern portion of the city. Damage has been reported, but the extent is unclear at this time.

The National Weather Service has not issued a report with details on the path of the tornado yet, but the hardest-hit areas were from Gretna to Arabi.

This is one of 3 tornado reports across the New Orleans metro in the last two hours.

“Particularly dangerous situation” as tornado watch issued along the Gulf Coast

A new tornado watch was issued by the Storm Prediction Center for southeast Louisiana, southern Mississippi and southwest Alabama. 

The watch has been designated as a “particularly dangerous situation,” which is only used when the most significant threats are expected, including strong, long-tracked tornadoes.

This is just the fourth PDS tornado watch of the year, according to CNN Weather analysis (three have been in central and southern Mississippi). It is also only the third PDS tornado watch to occur in the month of December since 2006.

“Numerous tornadoes [are] expected with a few intense tornadoes likely,” the Storm Prediction Center said.

Strong supercell thunderstorms are already ongoing across the region and will continue to move through the watch area this afternoon and into the evening. Numerous tornado warnings are already in effect.

The watch is in effect until 8 p.m. CST and covers nearly 5 million people, including New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Biloxi and Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Mobile, Alabama.

Medical center in Louisiana city suffers damage from storm

The New Iberia Police Department has confirmed in a video posted to Facebook that two tornadoes touched down in the Louisiana city. 

Captain Leland Laseter said that the Iberia Medical Center has “sustained a significant amount of damage.” CNN has reached out to the medical center but have not heard back. 

New Iberia is located southwest of Baton Rouge, near Lafayette.

According to the police department, several homes have been damaged with people trapped in the Southport subdivision. 

According to police, first responders from several agencies are on the scene and “rescue efforts are underway.” The post cautions civilians to avoid the area. 

Several schools throughout the area, like New Iberia Senior High School and Park Elementary, proactively closed due to the severe weather.

A shelter has been set up at New Iberia Senior High School inside the gym for anyone who has been displaced. 

Tornado threat upgraded to level of 4 of 5, rare for December

Nearly 3 million people are now under a level 4 of 5 risk for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms from this afternoon through this evening, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

The threat area, that includes the highest risk for EF-2 or greater storms, includes New Orleans, Mobile, Biloxi and Gulfport. 

“Tornadoes, including the possibility of strong and long-track tornadoes, are the primary concern today,” the center said in its latest update.

“Supercell development will commence this afternoon over southeast Louisiana into southern Mississippi. This activity will likely persist through the evening and track into western and southern Alabama,” it added. 

A level 4 of 5 risk is rare in December. There have been only five in December over the past decade, according to a CNN Weather analysis.

A level 3 of 5 risk covers over 3 million people and includes Baton Rouge, Pensacola and Panama City, where the tornado threat is also significant this afternoon through this evening.

In all, over 14 million people in the Southeast are under some level of threat.

Mother and child die after tornado strikes parish in Louisiana, sheriff’s office says 

A child and his mother who were missing after a tornado touched down in Keithville, Louisiana on Tuesday, have died, the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.  

Around 2:27 a.m. local time on Wednesday, “the missing mother was found deceased one street over from where her home was destroyed in the Pecan Farms area of Keithville, LA,” the post from the sheriff’s office said.

“She was located under debris caused by a tornado. First responders will continue to search the area for unknown victims. No one else has been reported missing as a result of the storm,” the post added.  

Keithville is located about 20 miles south of Shreveport.  

The storm system brought at least a dozen reports of tornadoes across Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi on Tuesday.

The Washington Inquirer Editor

20 years in media business

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