On Wednesday, a devastating tornado tore through the Greater New Orleans area, killing at least three residents and leaving thousands more without power. Weather experts are estimating that the damage puts the rare winter tornado at a rating of 4 out of 5.
Most of the damage occurred in western Jefferson Parish, as well as areas of St. Charles Parish and St. Bernard Parish. By 4 a.m. Thursday morning, these communities reported that roughly 9,500 Entegy customers were without power.
The fatality occurred around 2:30 p.m. in St. Charles Parish as the first round of extreme weather pushed through. Several others in the community sustained injuries as the destruction continued into the evening.
New Orleans Residents and Authorities Struggle to Cope With Aftermath of Tornado
Sheriff Greg Champagne was on the scene, helping locals find safety and receive any treament they needed. He recalled how those in St. Charles Parish felt hopeless as they were still recovering from Hurricane Ida months ago.
“They didn’t need this again. I heard residents say that they just can’t seem to catch a break,” he shared in an interview with WWLTV.
Meanwhile, Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee-Sheng feels incredibly grateful that her community didn’t experience any deaths during the tornado.
“We’ve had no victims, and that is a blessing. Crying from the loss of a loved one is a different type of cry and I haven’t had to hear that tonight,” she said.
St. Charles Parish Local Recalls Moment Tornado Hit
Among the victims in Greater New Orleans was Mary Kenny, a Killona resident, who recalled the moment that the tornado struck her neighborhood. Kenny and her family have been living in a trailer since Hurricane Ida while crews repair their family home. Once they received notice of the coming storm, though, they knew they needed to seek shelter in a more permanent structure.
“We were sitting in the trailer, and our cell phones went off and I said ‘we’ve gotta get out of here, there’s a tornado’… As soon as we got into the house, we got into the bathroom, in the tub. Our ears started popping and everything was gone, everything was falling on us,” Kenny said.
The tornado ripped the brand new roof off of Kenny’s home, but at the very least, they were alive.
“We just held onto each other and prayed. We just prayed,” she shared.
Over in New Iberia, just outside of New Orleans, the tornado blew out the windows of a hospital, sending glass shards and debris into the parking lot below.
“On the other side of town, the Iberia Medical Center, the hospital has sustained a significant amount of damage as well,” New Iberia police said in a video on Facebook.
Thankfully, though, officials had closed schools for the day when they first heard word of the ensuing weather.