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New Orleans area tornado: 5 Arabi residents on loss, destruction after severe storm

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Aubri Juhasz
People walk by a house that's been destroyed by a tornado in St. Bernard Parish on March 23, 2022.

At least two tornadoes touched down in the New Orleans area on Tuesday night, causing significant damage to an area still recovering from Hurricane Ida, multiple injuries and even a death.

UPDATE: EF3 tornado in New Orleans area had peak winds of 160 mph, lifted Arabi homes, NWS says

Tornadoes touched the grounds in the Lower 9th Ward, New Orleans East, Slidell, Lacombe and Gretna, but Arabi was the most impacted. New Orleans Public Radio reporters spoke with some of the town's residents, who recounted the moments when the tornado hit and the aftermath the night of and morning after.

Theresa Goelz
Theresa Goelz talks about living through Hurricane Betsy, Katrina, Ida and now this tornado.

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Patrick Madden
Theresa Goelz is reunited with her dog Sadie after she found her hiding in her office after the tornado.
“(My dog) was hiding in my office underneath my desk, trembling. She's with me now ... Oh my god. I won't leave her again. I will not leave her again. She will leave with me when I leave. But I think it was a blessing that I wasn't home. From what I hear, it was pretty horrific to live through.”
Cathleen Anderson
Cathleen Anderson said she'd rather ride out five Hurricane Idas in a row rather than experience another tornado like she did Tuesday night.

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Patrick Madden
Cathleen Anderson views the aftermath of the tornado in Arabi on Wednesday.
“It was like a giant monster was attacking us. And just like they say a train — and it just kept getting louder and louder. But like, you know, a train comes sideways. This thing was coming like a train over you smooshing … And then the dogs were shaking. Oh, it was so horrible. I couldn't even run to a safe place because it was hitting everywhere and you could feel the house moving.”
Roy Carmouche
Roy Carmouche recounts his experience riding out the tornado that destroyed his home.

Patrick Madden
Roy Carmouche on Wednesday after tornados touched down in the greater New Orleans area.
“Everything just started to shake, glass breaking, and stuff started falling on me. And then I thought for sure the house is going to collapse. But a good thing it didn't. I wouldn't be here telling you the story right now. But it was like that quick ... We're used to this, so we’ll just go back I guess, but I don't know where I'm headed to."
Leda Pagan
Leda Pagan, the wife of Pastor David Pagan, details the damage the tornado left to their church — La Vid Verdadera — and the items they've been able to recover.

David Pagan surveys the damage left to his church, La Vid Verdadera, in Arabi, Louisiana after an EF3 tornado ripped through area.
Shalina Chatlani/Gulf States Newsroom
David Pagan, pastor of La Vid Verdadera church in Arabi, Louisiana, looks over the damage left to his church building at the corner of Friscoville and St. Claude avenues, Wednesday, March 23, 2022. The night before, an EF3 tornado ripped through the area, leaving one person dead, multiple people injured and hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed. Pagan's wife, Leda, said she and her husband plan to rebuild and come back stronger.
"I've never seen anything like this except on TV, so it is a bit overwhelming. I have been able to find things in the rubble — pictures of the children for our children's church, my son's bible ... So, I'm grateful for the little things in the middle of all this. And that the altar is still standing, which, to us, is very important — the altar of the Lord — and it's still standing there. And, to us, that's a sign that God is with us and he will be with us. And we will rebuild and come back stronger."
Annette Dugan
Annette Dugan said her neighborhood in Arabi "looks like armageddon," after a horse trailer was flung into her and her neighbor's houses Tuesday night.

Tornado Annette Dugan
Shalina Chatlani/Gulf States Newsroom
Left: Arabi resident Annette Dugan with her two dogs, Gumbo and Roux. Dugan is taking her dogs, who are registered as therapy dogs, around her neighborhood to help lift spirits. Right: Dugan's house was heavily damaged when an EF3 tornado ripped through her neighborhood and flung a horse trailer into it. The tornado happened four weeks after Dugan's family finished fixing the home's roof after it sustained damage from Hurricane Ida in August.
The tornado hit us last night. We were watching it on TV and we went in the bathroom and it just blew. That horse trailer went into the back of the house, hit the house next door and all the windows blew out ... it looks like armageddon around here. We, physically, are OK, so, I'm all right. As long as we're OK physically ... all this stuff is just material stuff. Everybody pulls together. Everybody's friends and helps each other out.

Gulf States Newsroom Reporter Shalina Chatlani, Gulf States Newsroom Digital Editor Orlando Flores and WWNO News Director Patrick Madden contributed to this story.

Kezia Setyawan is a coastal reporter for WWNO and WRKF and is based out of Houma.

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