A large tornado tore through New Orleans on Tuesday night, killing at least one person and causing severe damage to homes, officials said.
The National Weather Service confirmed the tornado touched down just after 7:30 p.m. local time and urged residents to take cover in the Lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish. The storm moved past the city to the east about 20 minutes later. Authorities said that it left a trail of damage and that rescue efforts were underway.
“This is gonna be a long haul,” Guy McInnis, president of St. Bernard Parish, said in a news conference. “Tomorrow we will have a better assessment of all the homes [damaged], the number of homes, the number of people affected.”
Parish officials told NOLA.com there were multiple injuries, although the severity and extent were unclear as of Tuesday night. There were no details released about the person who was killed. According to The Washington Post, a 26-year-old man was found dead outside his home after the storm passed.
The fire department was working with search-and-rescue teams to aid trapped residents. Sheriff James Pohlmann said Tuesday night houses were “missing,” including one that was lifted up and dropped in the center of a street nearby.
“There was somebody trapped in that house,” he told The New York Times, adding that the person had been rescued and taken to a hospital.
John Lane, a spokesman for the St. Bernard Parish president, likened the destruction to 2005’s devastating Hurricane Katrina. In a statement to the Post, he said the damage was more localized “but nevertheless this is significant.”
Videos show a large, dark funnel cloud tearing through the city’s Arabi area.
Photos showed homes with roofs stripped off as well as cars and debris peppered over roadways. Power outages left streets darkened and still.
Many houses in St. Bernard Parish were without power after the storm. Nearby St. Tammany Parish said more than 1,000 homes were experiencing outages. Across the state, more than 8,000 homes were without electricity, according to PowerOutage.us.
“The sheriff confirms there is no power in the area, severe damage to homes and search and rescue efforts are underway for residents trapped in their homes,” the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s office said on social media.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said the state was assisting local officials, adding that his prayers were with Louisianans impacted by the storm. He urged residents to stay safe.