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Multiple tornadoes tear through Louisiana, state of emergency declared

Toronto Star logo Toronto Star 2017-02-07 Angela Fritz - The Washington Post
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Severe thunderstorms barrelled through the Southeast on Tuesday, dropping multiple tornadoes in southern Louisiana, one of which did major damage to communities in east New Orleans — among the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The large tornado was filmed by storm chasers and residents as it tracked from west to east across the populous New Orleans region. Multiple tornado warnings were issued as the storm evolved in which the National Weather Service used strong language to convey a tornado had been spotted on the ground.

The National Weather Service confirmed at least three tornadoes touched down.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency for Louisiana after a severe storm moved across the state’s southeast corner, including the parishes of Ascension, Livingston, Orleans, St. James, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa.

Edwards says he’s heartbroken to see Louisiana families suffering again. Much of the worst damage is in eastern New Orleans, part of the 9th Ward that was so heavily flooded by Hurricane Katrina.

He says the state is “working tirelessly to ensure that every citizen affected by this storm receives the resources they need as quickly as possible.”

Edwards did an aerial tour of the damage and planned to join Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other city officials for a news conference.

New Orleans East Hospital confirmed five patients were admitted with storm-related injuries, WGNO reported. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said damage is “substantial” and dozens of people were injured, though most injuries were minor.

There have been no reports yet of fatalities or missing people. Officials are searching houses to make sure people aren’t trapped in debris, according to the Associated Press. Approximately 10,000 homes were without power and there have been multiple reports of gas leaks, the AP said.

The NASA assembly facility in Michoud, Louisiana, sustained damage as the tornado passed through and the campus lost power. A Lockheed Martin spokesman told The Washington Post all of their employees are accounted for but couldn’t speak for the NASA employees. The smell of natural gas was reported near the facility.

Storms continued into the afternoon in the area while affected communities in the New Orleans area began to assess the damage. Major damage to homes and businesses was reported on social media via photos and video.

The storms resulted in two minor injuries in Livingston Parish, east of Baton Rouge, the AP reported. No other injuries or fatalities have been reported.

With files from The Associated Press

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