Louisiana twister carved destruction in mere moments

Severe_Weather_Louisiana_72346 This satellite image provided by provided by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of damaged and destroyed homes after a tornado in Arabi, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Louisiana_42406 This satellite image provided by provided by Maxar Technologies shows damaged homes and power crews repairing lines after a tornado in Arabi, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Louisiana_94923 This satellite image provided by provided by Maxar Technologies shows damaged and destroyed homes by W. Center Street after a tornado in Arabi, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
APTOPIX_Severe_Weather_29666 Christine Wiecek, left, and her husband Robert Patchus, second left, talk to neighbors amongst debris of their damaged homes after a tornado struck the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
APTOPIX_Severe_Weather_15277 Cody Scott searches the attic for belongings after a tornado tore the roof off of his father-in-law's home, in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
APTOPIX_Severe_Weather_Louisiana_55724 People walk amidst destruction from a tornado that struck Tuesday night in Arabi, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Louisiana_59811 People walk amidst destruction from a tornado that struck Tuesday night in Arabi, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Louisiana_15458 People walk amidst destruction from a tornado that struck on Tuesday night in Arabi, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
APTOPIX_Severe_Weather_Louisiana_30882 People walk amidst destruction from a tornado that struck Tuesday night in Arabi, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Severe_Weather_62405 Homes are damaged after a tornado swept through, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Arabi, La. A tornado flipped cars, ripped off rooftops and deposited a house in the middle of a street in the New Orleans area, part of a storm front that caused damage in places as it blew from Texas to South Carolina.
Severe_Weather_86140 A displaced and destroyed house sits in the middle of a street after a tornado struck the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022.
Severe_Weather_89836 Homes are damaged after a tornado swept through, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Arabi, La. A tornado flipped cars, ripped off rooftops and deposited a house in the middle of a street in the New Orleans area, part of a storm front that caused damage in places as it blew from Texas to South Carolina.
Severe_Weather_41358 Homes are damaged after a tornado swept through, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Arabi, La. A tornado flipped cars, ripped off rooftops and deposited a house in the middle of a street in the New Orleans area, part of a storm front that caused damage in places as it blew from Texas to South Carolina.
Severe_Weather_40969 Homes are damaged after a tornado swept through, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Arabi, La. A tornado flipped cars, ripped off rooftops and deposited a house in the middle of a street in the New Orleans area, part of a storm front that caused damage in places as it blew from Texas to South Carolina.
Severe_Weather_29923 Homes are damaged after a tornado swept through, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Arabi, La. A tornado flipped cars, ripped off rooftops and deposited a house in the middle of a street in the New Orleans area, part of a storm front that caused damage in places as it blew from Texas to South Carolina.
Severe_Weather_40246 Homes are damaged after a tornado swept through, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Arabi, La. A tornado flipped cars, ripped off rooftops and deposited a house in the middle of a street in the New Orleans area, part of a storm front that caused damage in places as it blew from Texas to South Carolina.
Severe_Weather_44332 Homes are damaged after a tornado swept through, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Arabi, La. A tornado flipped cars, ripped off rooftops and deposited a house in the middle of a street in the New Orleans area, part of a storm front that caused damage in places as it blew from Texas to South Carolina.
Severe_Weather_66830 Homes are damaged after a tornado swept through, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Arabi, La. A tornado flipped cars, ripped off rooftops and deposited a house in the middle of a street in the New Orleans area, part of a storm front that caused damage in places as it blew from Texas to South Carolina.
Severe_Weather_62039 Homes are damaged after a tornado swept through, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Arabi, La. A tornado flipped cars, ripped off rooftops and deposited a house in the middle of a street in the New Orleans area, part of a storm front that caused damage in places as it blew from Texas to South Carolina.
Severe_Weather_75279 Debris surrounds extensive damage to homes after a tornado Tuesday night in Arabie, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022. Louisiana is sending 300 National Guard troops to the New Orleans area where tornadoes flipped cars, ripped off rooftops.
Severe_Weather_38430 Annelise Cassar holds her nephew Eliam Cruice, 9 months, as mother Arianna Cruice, right, surveys damage around them after a tornado swept through the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_95259 Breign Collins and Darryl Bardell, right, walk past a destroyed church after a tornado struck the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_11011 Residents illuminated by fire truck lights stand amongst debris after a tornado swept through the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
APTOPIX_Severe_Weather_Louisiana_31794 Bertelina Martinez, who lives nearby and her son lives across the street, looks over destruction after a tornado struck the area in Arabi, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
APTOPIX_Severe_Weather_Louisiana_12213 Bonnie Norris, who survived inside her home, sits outside of her destroyed home after a tornado struck the area in Arabi, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Louisiana_94582 Volunteers walk through destroyed homes, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Arabi, La., after a tornado struck the area the night before. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
CORRECTION_Severe_Weather_Louisiana_71751 CORRECTS NAME OF HOMEOWNER TO JASON DICKENSON, NOT ERIC DICKERSON - Carrie Fontaine helps salvage belongings from her friend Jason Dickenson's home, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Arabi, La., after a tornado struck the area the night before. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
Severe_Weather_Louisiana_87229 Volunteers help salvage belongings from a destroyed home, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Arabi, La., after a tornado struck the area the night before. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
Severe_Weather_73078 Jason Dickenson, left, who survived with his 5 year old son by taking shelter in a bathtub, looks at his destroyed home with his nephew Mayson Bilet, after a tornado struck the area Tuesday night, in Arabi, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Louisiana_63659 Volunteer Matthew Maynard helps cut limbs from a tree that fell on a destroyed home after a tornado struck the area Tuesday night, in Arabi, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Louisiana_68985 Family member Holly Perque, right, hugs Alyssa Wineski next to Alyssa's tornado damaged home, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Arabi, La.
Severe_Weather_25651 Claude Maher caries his mother's dog, who he rescued along with firefighters, after a tornado struck the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_Louisiana_73951 Mayson Bilet, stands by liquor and wine recovered from his uncle's destroyed home, after a tornado struck the area Tuesday night, in Arabi, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Severe_Weather_65213 Melodie Maher watches from a fire truck as her son, Claude Maher, along with firefighters, rescues her dog from her heavily damaged home after a tornado struck the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_89729 People stand on the porch of a damaged home in the aftermath of a tornado in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_10106 Max Landry, center, owner of the Arabi Food store, sits with residents, some of whom are displaced from their damaged homes, after a tornado swept through the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_92842 Residents stand in the street near a destroyed home after a tornado in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
APTOPIX_Severe_Weather_83428 Destroyed homes, illuminated by fire engine lights, are seen after a tornado struck the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_25651 Claude Maher caries his mother's dog, who rescued it along with firefighters, after a tornado struck the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_65213 Melodie Maher watches from a fire truck as her son, Claude Maher, along with firefighters, rescued her dog from her heavily damaged home after a tornado struck the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_89729 People stand on the porch of a damaged home in the aftermath of a tornado in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_60797 Cody Scott helps go though the debris of his father-in-law's heavily damaged home, which lost its roof, after a tornado swept through the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_10106 Max Landry, center, owner of the Arabi Food store, a neighborhood store, sits with residents, some of whom are displaced from their damaged homes, after a tornado in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_61569 A truck lies on this side in front of a destroyed home after a tornado swept through the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
APTOPIX_Severe_Weather_Louisiana_55724 In this aerial photo, people walk amidst destruction from a tornado that struck Tuesday night in Arabi, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Severe_Weather_92842 Residents stand in the street near a destroyed home after a tornado in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_98566 A responder walks amid destruction after a tornado in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
APTOPIX_Severe_Weather_Louisiana_30882 In this aerial photo, people walk amidst destruction from a tornado that struck Tuesday night in Arabi, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Severe_Weather_83428 Destroyed homes, illuminated by fire engine lights, are seen after a tornado in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_00093 Neighbors stand in the street after a tornado struck in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_60797 Cody Scott helps go though debris of his father-in-law's heavily damaged home, which lost its roof, in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
APTOPIX_Severe_Weather_85125 A car is flipped over after a tornado tore through the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_61569 A truck lies on this side in front of a destroyed home after a tornado in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_73066 Kathy Pechon walks past the roof of her destroyed shed after a tornado swept through the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_98566 A responder walks amid destruction after a tornado in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_00093 Neighbors stand in the street after a tornado struck in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_85125 A car is flipped over after a tornado in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
Severe_Weather_73066 Kathy Pechon walks past the roof of her destroyed shed after a tornado in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.
APTOPIX_Severe_Weather_Louisiana_15458 In this aerial photo, people walk amidst destruction from a tornado that struck on Tuesday night in Arabi, La., Wednesday, March 23, 2022. Residents of severely damaged or destroyed homes in Arabi swept up broken glass and tried to salvage their belongings.
(1/59)

ARABI, La. (AP) — A powerful tornado took mere seconds to rip off roofs and destroy homes as it chiseled a path of destruction through a New Orleans area neighborhood where one man died, residents said Wednesday as they picked through wreckage and mourned their neighbor.

Tuesday night’s tornado in the Arabi community of St. Bernard Parish sprung from a storm system blamed for earlier tornadoes in Texas that killed a woman north of Dallas and prompted Gov. Gregg Abbott to declare a disaster in 16 counties. It also spawned a tornado that touched down in the Lacombe area of St. Tammany Parish, caused damage in eastern New Orleans and was blamed for torrential rain and building damage in Alabama.

“My neighbor died. Why did it spare us?” Michael Baiamonte asked Wednesday afternoon. He, his wife, their two sons, his father and their dog took refuge in a closet under a stairwell when the tornado hit. “The amount of shaking that was going on in that house for that small time frame was phenomenal,” said Baiamonte.

He added that the destruction was all over in the time it took him to say “four Hail Marys.”

Half his roof was gone. And the house where his neighbor, 25-year-old Connor Lambert had lived, was gone. Lambert’s body was found amid debris. The St. Bernard Parish coroner’s office said he died of multiple blunt force injuries. News outlets said Lambert had grown up in St. Bernard Parish and was an engineer at the Stennis Space Center in nearby Mississippi.

Gov. John Bel Edwards declared an emergency in St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes. After flying over the area Wednesday, he walked the streets in Arabi, greeting storm victims.

“It’s awfully sad, because the destruction is so devastating,” Edwards said. “The good news is most of your neighbors outside of this narrow swath — they’re able to help.”

In front of her roofless home, a woman told Edwards she, her husband and their 1-year-old son took refuge in the bathroom as the tornado bore down.

“We just dropped down, and he jumped on top of us, covering our son,” she said. “So scary.”

One of the destroyed houses belonged to Jibri Brown, who had not yet spent the night there. She had started moving her belongings into the white house Saturday and spent Tuesday having her TVs mounted. They’re still on the walls, she says, but the house around them is mangled and knocked off its foundation.

“It took me a year to find my perfect house,” said Brown, an ICU nurse. She gestured toward the wreckage: “This is my perfect house.”

The National Weather Service said the Arabi damage was caused by a tornado of at least EF-3 strength, meaning it had winds of 158-206 mph (254-332 kph), while the Lacombe-area twister was an EF-1, with winds as strong as 90 mph (145 kph).

Television stations broadcast live images as the storm damaged an area about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) long and a half-mile (0.8 kilometer) wide in St. Bernard Parish, where Ochsner Health said eight patients were treated in an emergency department.

From the air, the Arabi twister’s path reflected in a tight swath of homes that were roofless or reduced to splinters, the wreckage line interrupted in spots where the tornado apparently skipped over buildings. Outside that destruction, homes appeared intact.

Louisiana activated 300 National Guard personnel to clear roads and provide support.

Arabi is near New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward. Like that New Orleans neighborhood, it was wrecked by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and hit hard again when Hurricane Ida swept through last year.

Baiamonte said he and his family had lived in Arabi when Katrina hit. They moved away, but returned a few years ago. He said there was much new construction in the area, owing to a parish government push encouraging more development.

“It just kept getting louder and louder,” resident Michelle Malasovich said of Tuesday’s storm. Her house and Jeep were damaged. Others fared worse: “Our neighbor’s house is in the middle of the street right now.”

The couple inside that home emerged from the wreckage seeking help to rescue their daughter, who was on a breathing machine and trapped inside, neighbors and authorities said. St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis later said the girl was “doing fine.”

Lauren Neupert wasn’t at her Arabi home when the tornado hit Tuesday night, but her partner and their 2-year-old daughter were, hiding in the bathroom. They emerged unharmed. But blue sky was visible Wednesday where the roof had ripped off.

“I know it will be months before I’m able to come back to my house,” Neupert said.

As the storm front moved eastward, an apparent twister shredded a metal building and shattered windows east of Mobile Bay. The weather service reported more than 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rainfall in the central Alabama city of Sylacauga overnight. The roofs of several homes were damaged in Toxey, Alabama, where tornado warnings were issued.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said a dozen counties had damage to homes and two injuries were reported.

The vicious weather hit Texas on Monday, with several tornadoes reported along the Interstate 35 corridor. In Elgin, broken trees lined the rural roads and pieces of metal hung from the branches as residents stepped gingerly through the mess.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said 10 people were injured by storms in the Crockett area, while more than a dozen were reportedly hurt elsewhere. The Grayson County Emergency Management Office said a 73-year-old woman was killed in Sherwood Shores, about 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of Dallas, but provided no details.

___

Associated Press journalists Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; Kimberly Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama; Ken Miller in Oklahoma City; Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas; Terry Wallace in Dallas; Janet McConnaughey and Kevin McGill in New Orleans; and Acacia Coronado in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Related Categories:

Latest News | National News

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up