Victims work to pick up pieces after tornado rips through Kenner

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wwltv.com

Posted on April 24, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 11:17 PM

Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: mhernandez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

NEW ORLEANS - Victims worked to pick up the pieces after an an EF-1 tornado tore through a Kenner neighborhood Thursday afternoon. It damaged homes and left thousands without power. Now, Entergy continues to work to get the lights back on.

Clay Ledet came home Thursday afternoon to find chunks of his roof missing. Piles of insulation covered the floor. Pieces of his home were strewn about his backyard.

“The whole front half of the house is gone. It's just laying in the backyard. It's in the swimming pool. It's everywhere,” said Ledet.

Ledet and his family were not home when an EF-1 tornado barreled down West Loyola Drive at 90 miles per hour.

The family dog was in a child’s bedroom at the time; the roof collapsed right next to the canine’s cage.

The twister damaged more than half a dozen homes, ripping off roofs and blowing out windows.

Kathy Helffrich was inside her home when the tornado touched down.

“I just heard the wind, and I felt the house shaking and I was just more concerned about trying to get to safety,” she said.

No one was hurt, but the storm knocked out power to 5,000 customers in Kenner. Entergy promised to restore power to most customers by 7 p.m., and all customers that could receive power by midnight.

The Red Cross was on scene to pass out blue tarps and snacks.

Hours after the tornado had passed, most victims had already secured their roofs with blue tarps.

“My heart just bleeds for the ones that were affected by it,” said Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni, who was in the area surveying the damage.

Neighbors said West Loyola Drive flooded during Hurricane Katrina. Now, they're facing another time of rebuilding.

They say the damage bring backs tough memories.

“That really kind of, like, hit a nerve when I went back inside, because the floors need to be replaced again, the furniture, and you got to relive it again, you know, you got to start over,” said Ledet.

About three miles away, on West 27th Street, a large concrete wall at Kenner’s Acadian Plumbing crumbled under heavy winds, crushing two cars.

The owner says about 10 employees were inside at the time. No one was hurt.

“The whole building just started shaking and moving, and you heard a loud whistle and after the whistle the building fell,” said owner Russell Tapie, who said his building received similar damage during Hurricane Katrina.

Meanwhile, those like Ledet are preparing for a long clean up process.

“We'll survive. We're going to clean it up,” said Ledet. “Thank God we got insurance. We're going to pick it up and go from here.”

If you need help finding assistance, Mayor Mike Yenni suggests calling his office at (504) 468-7240.

 

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