One death, multiple people injured and trapped following tornadoes in New Orleans area
One person has died and multiple residents are injured after a large tornado touched down in New Orleans during Tuesday’s severe weather event.
Guy McInnis, St. Bernard Parish President, confirmed the death at about 9:45 p.m. He said multiple people were taken to the hospital and that search and rescue missions would take place throughout the night, but could not confirm how many people were injured or missing.
"We have widespread, major damage here," McInnis said.
Several rescue missions have taken place in St. Bernard Parish, with reports of people being trapped in their damaged homes. Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann said officials would "have a better assessment" of the disaster in the morning.
Arabi in St. Bernard Parish was one of the first communities hit by a series of tornadoes that wreaked havoc on metro New Orleans. Water poured from broken fire hydrants, school buses were flipped on their side, and countless poles, transformers and electrical wires were sprawled across the ground.
Near St. Claude Avenue, only the crumbled remains of Faith World Assembly Church was left behind, with just one wall still standing. Sobs could be heard as business owners checked on their livelihoods shortly after the twister moved out of the area, only to find their building devastated.
Windows and portions of the roof were blown out of The Old Arabi Marketplace, an antique store. Nola Crawfish King — the adjoining seafood spot — was leveled, reduced to a pile of bricks. Across the street, the intense winds punched in the glass doors of businesses along a strip mall known as Arabi Plaza. Kina Bullock's restaurant, Soule-2-Geaux, sat on that strip.
The Chicago native was no stranger to tornadoes and considered herself lucky — especially when compared to the antique and seafood stores on the other side.
"It’s sad. It’s people’s lives, it’s people’s hearts. It’s a lot of damage,” she said. “Right now, it’s a shock, but tomorrow people are really going to feel it as they start to clean up.”
During a press conference, St. Bernard officials said a shelter had been set up in Chalmette at the Val Riess Sports Complex for those who had lost their homes to the tornado. Pohlmann said they were beginning to bus residents to the shelter Tuesday night.
"This is going to be a long haul ... and we're going to have a long road ahead of us in this recovery," McInnis said.
The tornado then moved into Orleans Parish, damaging the Lower 9th Ward, trekking toward New Orleans East before ending up in St. Tammany Parish.
An emailed statement from the New Orleans Police Department said there were no reports of injuries, deaths or residents trapped inside their homes.
During an interview after the tornado, New Orleans homeland security director Collin Arnold said city officials and employees would be ready to help with St. Bernard recovery efforts.
The tornado was one of at least three to touch down in metro New Orleans, spanning at least four parishes after a severe weather event poured down on the region.
The severe weather has also put tens of thousands of people in the dark. The outage numbers below are from areas in the storm's path and are from reports at about 9:45 p.m.:
- Lower 9, Arabi and Chalmette: 7,271 customers affected (Entergy)
- Jefferson Parish: 3,199 (Entergy)
- New Orleans East: 3,380 (Entergy)
- Lacombe and Big Branch through CLECO: 1,163
- Lacombe and Big Branch through Washington-St. Tammany: 179
More than 16,000 outages were reported statewide by Entergy.
Earlier weather reports anticipated Baton Rouge getting the brunt of the severe threats, including possible tornadoes, hail and flooding. But the weather event passed over the Capitol region late afternoon with little to no impact.
Stay with WWNO for more updates.
Reporter Carly Berlin and Gulf States Newsroom Digital Editor Orlando Flores contributed to this report.