NEW ORLEANS – Residents are beginning to clean up Friday morning after the National Weather Service said an EF3 tornado struck the Northshore near Bush, La. Thursday, knocking down trees and power lines and damaging 25 structures.
“Looks like we got about 25 homes that were damaged, others with minor (damage),” said St. Tammany President Kevin Davis. “It looks like it went across this area in about a four or five mile area.”
Red Cross and St. Tammany Public Works officials have been called out to help those who suffered damage during the storm, said Davis, and parish officials are also on the scene doing damage assessments.
Davis said there were five minor injuries.
There have been no fatalities reported.
The NWS said the tornado was about 200 yards wide at some points and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office is estimating it was 6-10 miles long. Winds were estimated around 140 miles per hour.
There were no sirens in the area that it hit, and there were people in their homes when it happened.
Some homes, including one owned by 71-year-old Bill Jenkins, were totally destroyed. Jenkins had to be pulled out from the rubble. He lived in the Five Lakes campground, which saw some of the worst damage.
“Everything in there is torn up. I don’t know how in the hell we got out of there,” Jenkins said. “We’re just blessed.”
Over a dozen families live here year round. Many, like Jenkins, had no insurance. Now they’re left picking up the pieces.
“The doors got blown open and windows got blown out, and I could see through the open door outside, and I could see that roof get torn off, and as soon as it died down,” said Benjamin Bradley, a tornado survivor. “That’s when I ran over here to check out the status of my mother and my sister and her 4-year-old daughter.”
In addition to the damaged homes, officials said trailers and mobile homes in the Five Lakes campground were almost completely wiped out with several people having to be pulled from the rubble.