Tornadoes Hit Louisiana, Including New Orleans; 1 Killed by Falling Tree in Calhoun County, Florida
An estimated eight tornadoes were spawned by a storm system that swept through the South Tuesday, with widespread damage reported in parts of Louisiana, including New Orleans.
Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency in the wake of the damaging storms and said he will travel to southeastern Louisiana to survey the destruction left behind.
One of the hardest-hit areas was New Orleans East. Shortly after the supercell passed through, severe damage to homes and businesses was reported by local media. Emergency managers reported at least 60 homes and businesses were damaged in New Orleans East, and at least 20 people were hurt.
Following a survey, the National Weather Service assigned an EF3 rating to the tornado, making it the strongest tornado to hit Orleans Parish since records began in 1950.
New Orleans East is home to at least 65,000 residents, down from 95,000 prior to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the area in 2005. New Orleans East is a neighborhood in the city's Ninth Ward.
In some areas, homes that were rebuilt after Katrina were damaged or destroyed by Tuesday's tornado. Yoshekia Brown was one such example; her home was destroyed by the monster hurricane, and on Tuesday, three-fourths of her New Orleans East home collapsed, according to the Associated Press.
"I lived in between two blighted properties. One of those would have been gone before my house," she told the AP. "It's just gone. Like the movie Twister."
The tornado also left damage to NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility and the USDA's National Finance Center's Primary Business Center. The buildings are located adjacent to one another in Michoud.
NASA said Wednesday that its facility remains closed while security and emergency operations crews assess the damages. There was some electrical damage to a substation at the building where major hardware is welded for a rocket designed to explore deep space.
A statement from the space agency said about 40 to 50 percent of the facility's buildings were damaged and four or five other buildings sustained serious damage.
Late Tuesday morning, a tornado was reported south of Killian, a town of about 1,200 northwest of Lake Pontchartrain. The tornado possibly crossed Interstate 55 between Akers and Ponchatoula.
That storm moved east, prompting a tornado emergency to be declared by the NWS for parts of St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes. Emergency management reported a tornado from the storm in Madisonville, about 35 miles east of Killian, where additional damage was confirmed.
In Livingston Parish, at least 10 homes were damaged and two minor injuries were reported, deputy emergency management preparedness director Brandi Janes told the AP.
"Two of them are completely gone ... all the way to the ground," she told the AP.
Hail as big as ping-pong balls was observed near Kenner, Louisiana. More than 10,000 homes and businesses lost power in southeastern Louisiana because of the storms, according to the Times-Picayune.
A few severe storms also developed early Tuesday morning, producing quarter-size hail near Little Rock, Arkansas, while a wind gust to 62 mph was clocked in Henning, Tennessee.
1 Killed, Damage Reported in Florida
As severe storms marched east, one person was killed in Florida in a damaging storm. Benny Hollis, 61, died in Calhoun County when a tree fell on top of him, according to WJHG.com. Hollis was in a 12-foot-high hunting stand when the tree was brought down by strong winds, the report added.
On Tuesday afternoon, a waterspout reportedly came ashore in Destin, Florida, Tuesday afternoon. According to the Pensacola News Journal, the reported tornado damaged the roof of McGuire's Irish Pub and hit an EMS vehicle, injuring one person.
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