NEW ORLEANS – A family is counting its blessings Tuesday as a massive tornado ripped through a mother and daughter’s neighboring houses and the falling rubble hit almost everything except the people trapped inside.

Angela Pierre, her husband and son live directly behind her elderly mother, Rhetta Jacob, in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood. The New Orleans East area which was torn asunder by a huge twister around midday Tuesday. Both houses are right along the Chef Menteur Highway corridor, which was the central path of the meandering funnel cloud.

For Angela’s husband, Richard, the memories of Hurricane Katrina rescues more than 11 years ago are still fresh.

“We went in boats and got people off roofs and out trees and telephone poles,” Pierre said.

This time, there was no warning when he and his son Austin sat down for lunch Tuesday.

“We had some gumbo and jambalaya, we sat down at the table and the wind started blowing a lot and I said, ‘Something's not right,’” he said. “Then the whole house started shaking so I grabbed him and we ran to the center of the house.”

As the storm ripped through, Richard called Angela at work.

“I lost it, but I was at a school where I work and they had everyone on lockdown so I couldn't leave,” she said. “And so we just prayed, just prayed and trusted God.”

Rhetta Jacob was stuck in her house next door, calling from a pile of rubble. Richard and Austin climbed desperately through it to check on her and her caretaker, Ashaki Brown.

“We just started pulling the rafters and debris and furniture out of the way,” Richard Pierre said.

Then, a miracle.

“It’s amazing, the whole living room collapsed around her where she wasn't touched or injured,” he said.

They were able to carry her out through a window to waiting firefighters.

“This is hard, but this is material things, and we just thank God for life, that everybody got out OK,”
Angela Pierre said.