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The residents of New Orleans can't seem to catch a break from natural disasters. Just over a year after being battered by Hurricane Ida, the beautiful city has been hit by a powerful tornado. The twister, which boasted wind speeds of 160 mph, made landfall shortly before 8:00 pm local time on March 22, 2022.
Since most homes have no basements, residents had to seek other areas to shelter when the dark, ominous clouds began to appear. Some families rode out the storm huddled inside closets, while others spent the harrowing 17 minutes crouched inside bathrooms.
The tornado left widespread destruction along its 11.5-mile-long path. Arabi, a New Orleans suburb —which suffered extensive damage during both Hurricane Katrina (2005) and Hurricane Ida (2021) — was the hardest hit. The twister downed trees and utility poles, flipped cars and school buses, and ripped off roofs and walls from homes and buildings. Initial estimates indicate that more than 300 buildings and homes had been damaged. Of these, 41 were completely razed, and 92 will require significant repair. Miraculously, few people were injured, and only one is believed to have died.
The suburb's residents were initially shell-shocked at the devastation. But as the day wore on, the resilient community regrouped, helping friends and neighbors cut down tree limbs, gather whatever belongings remained, and haul away debris.
The National Weather Service classified the recent twister as an EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. With winds of 160 mph, it is New Orleans's strongest tornado on record. The previous record-holder was an EF3 tornado that struck the city with 150 mph winds in 2017.
The New Orleans tornado is believed to have sprung from the same storm responsible for the 10 tornadoes that tore through parts of Texas and Mississippi on March 21, 2021. The twisters, which ranged in strength from EF-0 to EF-3, left behind a trail of destruction, injured dozens, and killed at least one person. More than 90,000 homes and businesses were left without power.
We wish the residents of all the affected areas a quick and speedy recovery!
Resources: NPR.com, accuweahther.com, Nola.com, WashingtonPost.com