New Orleans-area tornadoes: Residents describe harrowing experience as tornadoes swept through, killing 1


“I’m still in shock myself,” her mother, Monica Hazen, told the station as she stood outside her nearby house. “I’m just trying to absorb it all.”

The mother and daughter are just two of the storm-battered New Orleans area residents still assessing the damage and reflecting on their race for safety as two tornadoes ripped through the area, leaving one person dead and unspeakable misery.

The powerful tornado caused significant damage in Arabi, said St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis. Some houses have been “picked up on their foundations and lying on the street”, he said.

Eight people have been hospitalized with storm-related injuries, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The National Weather Service gave the tornado a preliminary rating of EF-3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

Another Arabi resident, Damarys Olea, said her family – including her husband and two children aged 6 and 8 – used a mattress to cover themselves as they sought refuge in a bathroom in their house as the tornado swept through. The windows of his house were blown out and downed power lines fell on the family’s cars and yard – although the house itself was largely untouched.

Olea said as the tornado got closer, she felt pressure in her ears.

“We felt the pressure and it was scary. It was like being in a movie,” Olea said. “The wind, the pressure, the noise, the house shaking…it was like a train passing.”

Another tornado touched down Tuesday night in the Lacombe area of ​​St. Tammany Parish, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, the National Weather Service said. No injuries were immediately reported in Lacombe, but the tornado snapped dozens of trees, destroyed a shed and left minor roof damage, the weather service said.

This tornado was on the ground for 12.2 miles and had a maximum width of 100 meters, with peak winds estimated at 90 mph, making it an EF-1 tornado, according to the weather service.

In New Orleans, about 50 structures sustained damage, but none were significant and no injuries were reported in the city, officials said.

An overturned vehicle is seen Wednesday amid destroyed homes in Arabi, Louisiana.

System bringing rain to the East Coast

The storm system that hit the New Orleans area on Tuesday also spawned more than 30 tornadoes in Texas on Monday and still harbors the potential for severe conditions Thursday as it heads for the east coast, although threats les most dangerous have probably passed.
“A few strong/severe storms will be possible until noon over parts of the Mid-Atlantic region, extending south along the Atlantic coast, and during the afternoon over parts of the north/east of Florida,” the weather service’s storm forecasting center warned.

More than 17 million people are at marginal risk (a level 1 in 5) of severe weather extending from Tampa, Florida, to southern Delaware, according to an alert issued by the storm center.

Widespread rainfall totals in the region on Thursday are expected to be between 1 and 2 inches, with a few isolated pockets likely to see between 2 and 4 inches.

Central Florida is under threat of excessive rainfall on Thursday “due to a series of storms producing heavy rain,” CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.

The system has already brought record rainfall to parts of the South.

In Louisiana, Shreveport broke its 1871 daily record of 1.29 inches of rain when it saw 3.81 inches.

Several daily precipitation records were also broken in Alabama: Birmingham broke its 1908 precipitation record of 1.95 inches when it collected 2.32 inches; Tuscaloosa saw 3.56 inches, surpassing its previous record of 1.1 inches in 2012; Monticello received 2.87 inches, surpassing the record of 2.72 inches in 1968.

In Jackson, Mississippi, 1.69 inches of rain fell, breaking the 1953 record of 1.63 inches.

CNN’s Jason Hanna, Derek Van Dam, Robert Shackelford, Alisha Ebrahimji, Jamiel Lynch, Christina Maxouris, Kelly McCleary, Steve Almasy, Devon Sayers, Monica Garrett, Gregory Lemos and Tina Burnside contributed to this report.


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