Parish leader Guy McKinnis told CNN on Tuesday night that a twister had killed and caused extensive damage in the Arabian neighborhood of St. Bernard outside New Orleans. A further 7 people are said to be receiving treatment with minor injuries.
Some houses collapsed; Others were pulled from the foundations and left on the streets. The roofs of the others were torn down and vehicles overturned.
Streets and courtyards were littered with trees, metals and fallen power lines. The school bus overturned 100 feet from where it had stalled.
“It’s about 2 miles long (damage) … now we have homeless streets,” McInnis told CNN’s “New Day” site on Wednesday.
“It’s a miracle,” McKinnis said of the damage.
New Orleans Mayor Ladoya Cantrell said the hurricane that hit Arabia had hit the Ninth Ward and the New Orleans East community under New Orleans just before 8pm on Tuesday.
About 50 structures in the east of New Orleans suffered some damage, but no injuries or significant damage were reported in the city, officials said Wednesday afternoon.
“We’ve been through this, it sounds like a billion times, but we’re good at it, we’re going to start this morning,” McKinnis said.
Authorities believe emergency workers searched every affected home in St. Bernard Parish, McKinnis said.
The family was pushed under a mattress as the hurricane passed
Tamaris Olia, who lives in Arabia, said she, her husband and 6 and 8-year-old children covered themselves with a mattress in the bathroom of their home.
Although the windows were all blown out, her house was largely preserved. The power lines that fell down were strewn all over her cars, her house and her yard.
Olia felt pressure in her ears as the hurricane approached, and at one point she felt like she had darkened, he said.
“We felt the pressure, it was scary. It was like being in a movie,” Olia said. “The wind, the pressure, the noise, the house shaking … it felt like going on a train.”
In Arabic, Kristin Wisek said she and her husband, Rob Patches, considered themselves lucky to have been evacuated from their home by the hurricane.
Their carport, fence and sewers suffered significant damage, and the shells pierced relatively small holes in their roofs, Wisek said. One of their cars has broken glass, but both vehicles can still run.
“When the clock turned alarm, I turned off the stove and we caught cats and went into the indoor bathroom of a room with no windows,” he said. “Within two minutes, the storm had passed us by. It was so loud, the house shook, and we could not stop the poor, startled cats from running around like crazy in a small space.”
“I was sitting on the floor with my back to the door, and even though the doors and windows were closed I could feel the air coming under the door,” he said.
Wisek said the neighborhood was closed to traffic Wednesday morning, except for emergency vehicles.
“We still don’t know how much rubbish there is and what lies beneath it,” he said.
The governor declared a state of emergency, leaving thousands without electricity
According to a tweet from the parish government, a hurricane may have hit nearby Jefferson Parish on Tuesday. According to the tweet, there were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage.
Louisiana Governor John Bell Edwards declared a state of emergency Wednesday because of damage to churches in St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson and St. Dhammani, his office said.
“Unfortunately this morning, many of our people woke up with their lives upside down due to the tragic hurricane that hit churches in St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson and St. Dummani last night. Said in a press release.
The Arabic Primary School was closed Wednesday, according to the St. Bernard Parish Public School Organization. “All other public schools in St. Bernard Parish are open and follow the regular schedule,” the district said.
Condrell said New Orleans police and other emergency personnel were on stage to assist in St. Bernard Parish.
“Residents should avoid all trips that are not essential and provide an opportunity for professionals to handle this situation,” he said.
CNN’s Alisha Ebrahimji, Kelly McCleary, Steve Almasy, Devon Sayers, Monica Garrett, Gregory Lemos and Tina Burnside contributed to the report.