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Destructive tornadoes hit Louisiana, state of emergency declared

tornado-new-orleans-louisana-february-7-2017

At least 6 tornadoes swept through southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, leaving widespread damage and dozens of injured.

Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency following the destruction of a severe storm system that moved through much of southeast Louisiana, including Ascension, Livingston, Orleans, St. James, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa Parishes.

The storm system brought strong winds and at least six tornadoes, which caused severe damage, including multiple injuries, dozens of damaged homes and businesses, and thousands left without power.

NWS meteorologist Danielle Manning said one of the tornadoes touched down in the eastern part of New Orleans (EF2), another near the town of Donaldsonville and another in the town of Killian. Another confirmed tornado made damage north of Lake Pontchartrain.

New Orleans East, home to at least 65 000 people, is one of the hardest hit areas. At least 60 homes and businesses were damaged, and at least 25 people were injured. Emergency Medical Service described most of the injured as “walking wounded,” with minor cuts and scrapes.

The storm flipped over cars, tore roofs off homes, ripped through a gas station canopy, broke tall power poles off their foundations, flipped a food truck upside-down and left a couch resting improbably on a pile of debris in the middle of a road. One driver was trapped in his truck by power lines that wrapped around the cab, The Washington Post reported.

About 10 000 homes were left without power and there are reports of gas leaks in the area. Police said Interstate 10 eastbound from Downman to Interstate 510 and westbound from I-510 to the Downman exit. That covers most exits that would go into the affected areas. He urged people to stay off the roads and out of the affected areas.

NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility also sustained damage. A lot of cars and several buildings have sustained damage but only minor injuries have been reported and NASA employees and other tenants are being accounted for, the agency said. The rocket assembly facility is currently closed.

In Livingston Parish, at least 10 homes have been damaged, two of them completely. It was not immediately known whether the destroyed homes were occupied when the storm struck. Two people in the parish were slightly injured.

The storms continued east across Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida.

Featured image: An EF2 tornado in New Orleans East, Louisiana on February 7, 2017. Credit: NASA

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