Three killed in Louisiana as tornadoes tear apart family homes a week before Christmas

The storm system spawned dozens of reported tornadoes from east Texas to the Florida Panhandle

Louise Boyle
Thursday 15 December 2022 15:33 GMT
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3 Dead In Louisiana As Storm Spawns Tornadoes In The South

Three people are dead in Louisiana after tornadoes tore across the American South, destroying families’ homes in the midst of holiday preparations.

The storm system which had spawned dozens of reported tornadoes from east Texas to the Florida Panhandle was expected to peter out on Thursday. But not before it exacted devastation on a number of communities where some homes were blown to pieces and residents hospitalized.

Nikolus Little, aged eight, was found dead in Keithville, Louisiana, on Tuesday after a tornado touched down, the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office reported.

The child’s body was discovered in a wooded area of the Pecan Farms subdivision where his home had been destroyed. His mother, Yoshiko A. Smith, 30, was initially missing but her body was later found by sheriff’s deputies under debris and one street over from her demolished home.

The child’s father had reported them missing after going out for groceries and coming home to find the family’s mobile home was gone. “We couldn’t even find the house that he was describing with the address. Everything was gone,” Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator told Shreveport TV station KSLA.

Another Keithville man, William Walls, told the Associated Press that a tornado picked up his home and tossed it into his brother’s house next door. Videos he posted on Facebook show the shredded remains.

“This is my house,” he said. “It’s gone.”

Mr Walls said in the videos that he was standing on the back porch of his brother’s home and the wind blew the door shut. He couldn’t get inside and ended up standing out there as the tornado came right over the house, he said.

“I was standing on that back porch. I couldn’t get in the house, when that tree fell and I watched it pick my trailer up and throw it into there,” he said.

Power lines and metal roofing are seen in a tornado-damaged neighborhood in Gretna, Louisiana on Wednesday

Possible twisters pummeled parts of New Orleans and its neighboring parishes. Authorities in St. Charles Parish, west of New Orleans, said a woman was found dead there after a suspected tornado on Wednesday struck the community of Killona along the Mississippi River, damaging homes. Eight people were taken to hospitals with injuries, they said.

“She was outside the residence, so we don’t know exactly what happened,” St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said of the woman killed.

“There was debris everywhere. She could have been struck. We don’t know for sure. But this was a horrific and a very violent tornado.”

Other possible twisters struck neighboring Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes — including areas badly damaged by a March tornado.

In New Iberia, Louisiana, a possible twister injured five people as it smashed the windows of Iberia Medical Center, the hospital said.

In Union Parish, near the Arkansas line, Farmerville Mayor John Crow said a tornado on Tuesday night badly damaged an apartment complex where 50 families lived, wiping out a neighboring trailer park with about 10 homes. “It happened quick,” the mayor said Wednesday, adding about 30 homes also were damaged along nearby Lake D’Arbonne.

In Mississippi’s Rankin County, a suspected tornado destroyed four large chicken houses, one containing 5,000 roosters, Sheriff Bryan Bailey said. Mobile homes at a park in Sharkey County, Mississippi, were reduced to shredded debris.

More than 11,000 customers remained without power in Louisiana, and further north more than 100,000 lost electricity in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks utility outages.

Heavy snow and high winds meant more blizzards in the northern Midwest from the Dakotas through Michigan, with ice and snow causing trouble in places from the Appalachians through New England.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch through Friday afternoon. Residents from West Virginia to Vermont were told to watch for a possible significant mix of snow, ice and sleet.

With Associated Press

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