RUSTON, La. — Two people are dead after an EF3 tornado tore through the northern Louisiana City of Ruston and Louisiana Tech University's campus early Thursday.
Governor Jon Bel Edwards issued a State of Emergency Thursday afternoon after surveying the damage.
The tornado reportedly touched down near the university's campus around 2 a.m., causing severe damage to buildings, vehicles and power lines.
Emergency leaders say a mother and son in Lincoln Parish, which Ruston lies in, were killed when a tree fell on their home overnight. Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness communications director Mike Steele could not confirm the victim's names or ages.
Steele added that those were the only deaths reported in Louisiana during the storm, but rescue workers were still combing the area.
National Weather Service hydrologist C.S. Ross said it appears the tornado cut a track over 130 miles from eastern Texas to near the Louisiana-Arkansas border. The tornado was part of a severe weather system that pounded Texas with rain Wednesday, killing a woman and her two young children caught in rushing flash flood waters.
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The storm moved into Mississippi on Thursday morning.
High winds reportedly blew out several windows on some dorms at Louisiana Tech University. President Les Guice told the Monroe News Star that no students were hurt. Classes have been canceled for Thursday and Friday. They're expected to resume Monday.
Photos showed several downed trees across the school's campus and heavy damage to the baseball complex and fields.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Twitter that state police and the Louisiana National Guard were assisting local responders and that he was traveling to Ruston to assess the damage.
"Our hearts and our prayers are with the people of Ruston this morning, especially the families of those who were killed in the tornado," Edwards said.
Significant damage has been reported across Tech Drive and Farmerville Highway in northeast Ruston. Debris was spread across Interstate 20 and power was disrupted across the university town.
"It's bad. Real bad. We took a direct hit." Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker told the Monroe News Star.
Walker says he took a helicopter flight over the town of about 24,00 people Thursday morning and says the damage he saw to houses is "unbelievable."
The sheriff's office is telling drivers to stay off the roads due to downed trees and powerlines over the roadways.
"I've never seen it this bad in my 43 years," Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone told the News Star.
Edwards warned that more storms will move through Louisiana Thursday and residents should monitor local media for the latest information and stay aware.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.