Tornado causes injuries, 'extensive' damage in Louisiana parish
The powerful storm turned over trailers, blew glass off of windows and left a local mayor asking for prayers.
Lynelle Posey credits a police officer for kicking in her door and helping her out of her damaged mobile home that was hit by a tornado on Feb. 8.
A confirmed tornado in northeastern Louisiana Wednesday evening overturned trailers, downed trees and caused injuries as part of a broader midweek storm system.
The tornado passed through Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, approximately 65 miles northwest of New Orleans and 60 miles east of Baton Rouge. The tornado developed early in the evening and quickly began tossing debris into the air, eventually overturning two mobile homes and injuring three individuals. None of the injuries, including those suffered by two children, were considered "life-threatening," according to local officials.
According to Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller, other damages included trees being downed across the parish, along with damage done to a local gas station. The mayor of the village of Tangipahoa, Sheila Martin, said power lines were also down in the area. Martin said she and her family took shelter in a bathroom during the tornado. On Thursday afternoon, a preliminary survey from the National Weather Service found EF-2 damage in Tangipahoa Parish.
"Then we heard this loud noise, like a train ... like an extreme whistle," Martin told Fox 8 New Orleans. "We took cover."
AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell reported from Tangipahoa Wednesday evening, adding that he saw glass windows blown out of homes and that first responders were going door to door, making sure residents were safe.
Wadell spoke with residents who explained how fast the tornado barreled through the town.
“I heard the wind and then I looked out the window and I saw debris flying,” Tangipahoa resident Bonnie Carter told Wadell. “I was like oh my God, and then I just heard boom, boom, boom, and then just a few seconds later, maybe a minute, it was gone.”
Lynelle Posey, a Tangipahoa resident, survived the storm despite being trapped in her mangled mobile home after the twister ripped her roof off.
“I heard the whistling outside and the winds picked up so fast,” Posey said to Wadell in an interview. “Next thing I know the roof was off and I was slammed through the front door. It happened so fast. Everything was on top of me. I couldn’t move.”
Lynelle Posey and her dog Royal spoke to AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell about Wednesday's storms. (AccuWeather National Report Bill Wadell)
Posey tried to free herself, but every time she moved, something would fall, making the process of escaping harder. Posey tried to keep herself calm as she waited for help to arrive.
According to Posey, about 30 minutes later, a police officer arrived and kicked the door in to help free her. Posey did not sustain any serious injuries from the damage her house endured.
The mayor said that "everyone was safe" thus far and that no fatalities have been reported. She asked for prayers from neighboring cities, saying that damage in the area was "extensive."
Lafayette Funches, the pastor of Brown’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, told Wadell he’s thankful no one was seriously injured from Wednesday’s storm
“This is a devastating thing that happened, but we thank God that nobody lost their life,” Funches said. “We thank God that there were a few injuries, all the damages [are] material damage, which can be replaced or restored.”
Lafayette Funches, the pastor of Brown’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, spoke to AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell about Wednesday’s storms. (AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell)
Funches explained that community members didn’t have a lot of lead time from when the tornado warning was issued to when the twister hit.
“They had six minutes notice before they were aware that a tornado was coming and after six minutes, it hit,” Funches said.
Donnise Gordon, another Tangipahoa resident, was in the nearby town of Kentwood when the twister touched down. Gordon told Wadell she raced into Tangipahoa after the tornado hit to check on her family members, but the damage the storm left behind was shocking.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Gordon said. “I’m 61 [and] I’ve never seen this before.”
Gordon confirmed to Wadell that no one in her family was injured.
Both lanes of Louisiana Highway 440 east of Interstate 55 were closed Wednesday night after the storms toppled over trees and downed power lines, according to the Louisiana State Police.
Official response came quickly after a confirmed tornado hit Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, Wednesday evening. (Photo via Bill Wadell)
“Please avoid unnecessary travel to the area and keep all affected residents in your thoughts and prayers,” the agency wrote on Facebook.
As of Thursday morning, Highway 440 was reopened, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation.
Damage assessments were underway Thursday morning in Tangipahoa as daylight brought a clearer look at the damage, according to Wadell.
The tornado comes after AccuWeather meteorologists warned that the full spectrum of severe weather was likely with the storms in the lower Mississippi Valley. Aside from the tornado, multiple reports of flash flooding came in from the city of Jonesboro, Arkansas, located 70 miles northwest of Memphis, Tennessee.
Additional reporting from AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell.
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