Tornado hits New Orleans as storm moves into Deep South

Deann Fraser, 51, inspects his tornado-damaged home on March 22, 2022 in Round Rock, Texas. A series of tornadoes hit cities across Texas causing widespread damage.

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A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that was devastated by the hurricane. Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.

There were no immediate reports of injuries from the New Orleans tornado. Other tornadoes caused by the same storm system made landfall in parts of Texas and Oklahoma, killing one person, causing multiple injuries and widespread damage.

A video shot by a local television station shows a large black funnel visible in the dark sky lurking between buildings on the east side of New Orleans.

The tornado appeared to begin in a New Orleans suburb and then move east across the Mississippi River into New Orleans’ Lower 9 Ward and parts of St. Bernard – both heavily damaged by Katrina – before moving northeast.

Reggie Ford was nearby when the tornado struck. He drove from the area, only to turn around as it passed, to offer help to anyone who needed it. So far, he says, the streets have been eerily pretty, only filled with fresh devastation from the twists and turns.

The New Orleans resident said: “I saw the power lines down. The video he posted on Instagram showed messy streets and ruined buildings. A wrecked car was on the roof.

In the New Orleans suburb of Arabi, there was a strong smell of natural gas in the air as residents and rescuers stood in the streets and surveyed the damage. Several houses were destroyed while debris hung from power lines and trees. And the whole neighborhood was without power.

Michelle Malasovich lives in Arabi. She was initially worried for her family, who live in areas of northern Louisiana that are also being affected by the bad weather. She was texting with her family there when she said, “Suddenly, the lights started flashing.”

She didn’t hear the distinctive freight train sound many say there was a tornado, but it was very windy, and her husband yelled for her to get out of the bedroom. He was on the porch and saw the tornado coming.

“It just kept getting bigger and bigger,” said Malasovich. After it passed, they went out to survey the damage. “Our neighbor’s house is in the middle of the street right now.”

Malasovich’s home is relatively good, she said. Some of the poles were blown off the awning and the windows of her Jeep were blown out. Down the street, a house was severely damaged, and parked cars were moved by the wind: “This is serious for staying down here.”

An uprooted tree lies in the parking lot of a shopping mall following a tornado in Round Rock, Texas, United States, on Tuesday, March 22, 2022.

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Guy McGinnis, president of St. Bernard, told WWL-TV that the parish had “widespread damage” in areas of the parish that borders New Orleans to the east. Search and rescue teams scoured homes searching for people and answered at least two calls from people who said they were trapped indoors in their bathrooms.

“There are currently no major injuries reported,” McGinnis said. “It’s going to be a long night.”

It was not immediately known if anyone was injured. While the metropolitan area is often affected by extreme weather and heavy rain, it is rare for a tornado to move through a city.

High winds uprooted trees in Ridgeland, Mississippi, as a tornado could pass through Jackson on Tuesday afternoon, but there were no immediate reports of any injuries or serious damage to properties. building. Campus police at Mississippi State University, in Starkville, shared a photo of a large hardwood tree blocking the street.

Many schools closed early or canceled after-school activities on Tuesday in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi to allow students to go home before the weather deteriorated. Shelters are open to residents who need a place to stay while the storm passes.

Rising water poses a threat to motorists early Tuesday morning in Louisiana on several roads, including parts of Interstate 20 and several state highways, after rains overnight, authorities said. The sheriff’s office tweeted before dawn.

The storms are expected to strengthen throughout the day as temperatures soar, increasing the risk of tornadoes, hail and strong winds. Forecasters were predicting intense tornadoes and gusts, some with speeds of 75 mph (120 km/h) or more, for much of Mississippi, southern and eastern Louisiana, and West Alabama. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Jackson, Mississippi, are among the cities at risk of bad weather.

The system dumped heavy rain, toppled trees and issued multiple tornado warnings as it moved into Alabama Tuesday night. The roofs of several homes were damaged in Toxey, Alabama, after a storm before a tornado warning passed through the area, the National Weather Service tweeted.

Louisiana state and federal authorities have reminded thousands of hurricane survivors living in government-provided mobile homes and recreational vehicle trailers to have an evacuation plan because of public transportation. The process may not withstand the weather as expected. Officials say more than 8,000 households live in such shelters.

In Texas, several tornadoes were reported Monday along the Interstate 35 corridor, particularly in the Austin suburbs of Round Rock and Elgin, as well as in northern and eastern Texas and southern Oklahoma.

In Elgin, fallen trees lined the country roads and pieces of metal – uprooted by strong winds hung from branches. Residents carefully step to avoid downed power lines as they work to clear the remains of broken ceilings, torn walls and damaged cars.

JD Harkins, 59, said he saw two tornadoes pass by his home in Elgin.

“There used to be a barn,” said Harkins, pointing to an empty lot in his uncle’s estate that was covered in scattered debris. He said the building was empty when the tornado first hit Monday, and his family is grateful no one was hurt.

“It was crystal clear, well defined,” says Harkins. “And then one goes up and another goes down.”

The tornado struck on a wild day in Texas – wildfires burned in the west and a blizzard warning was issued for the Texas Panhandle, where up to 9 inches (23 cm) of snow fell.

“It’s absolutely nothing out of the ordinary from what we saw yesterday and we see today,” said Victor Gensini, a professor of meteorology at Northern Illinois University who studies severe storms. . He said: “It’s that time of year when tornadoes and storms can be expected and more often than in years with La Nina, a natural cooling of areas of the Pacific Ocean that alters weather around the globe, he said.

Gensini said the biggest concern is still tornadoes that strike at night.

At press conferences in Jacksboro and Crockett, two communities heavily damaged by the tornado, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced disaster declarations for 16 hard-hit counties.

Abbott said 10 people were injured by the storm in the Crockett area, while more than a dozen were injured elsewhere.

The Grayson County Office of Emergency Management said a 73-year-old woman was killed in the Sherwood Shores community, about 60 miles (95 km) north of Dallas, but did not provide details.

According to the Hurricane Forecast Center’s report, homes and businesses in at least a dozen Texas counties were damaged.

Officials reported damage across Jacksboro, about 60 miles (100 km) northwest of Fort Worth. Photos posted on social media showed a storm ripping off walls and roofs from parts of Jacksboro High, including the school gym.

“It brought me to tears,” school principal Starla Sanders told WFAA-TV in Dallas.

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