Report: Tornadoes damaged 606 buildings, destroying 79

Published 12:24 am Sunday, February 18, 2007

The tornadoes that hit Louisiana this week destroyed 79 houses and damaged 527 more, all but 80 of them in the New Orleans area, the state reported Friday.

The totals may rise as people return from Carnival season vacations, Mark Smith, spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said Friday.

He said 295 of the damaged houses were in New Orleans, 231 in Jefferson Parish and 80 in St. Martin Parish, where a tornado touched down in Breaux Bridge.

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In addition to the 79 houses destroyed, 76 received major damage, 160 minor damage and 291 had very minor damage, the kind that a homeowner might be able to fix on his own, he said.

“Minor is something that a quality handyman might be able to do. Major is going to take a contractor and destroyed is going to need a demolition team.”

Thirty-two of the destroyed houses were in New Orleans, 23 across the Mississippi River in Westwego, and 24 in Breaux Bridge.

The first tornado to hit the New Orleans area this week did more damage than originally thought, the National Weather Service found.

After slamming through Westwego and New Orleans’ Carrollton neighborhood, it touched down intermittently in the Mid-City area, according to a revised report issued Thursday afternoon.

That made its path about 4.5 miles long, rather than the 2.25 miles originally estimated, it said.

A report earlier Thursday said that tornado damaged 140 buildings and other structures, destroying or doing major damage to 66 of them.

Damage analysis indicates that its winds were about 125 mph to 130 mph for the entire way, giving it an enhanced Fujita rating of EF-2, the report said.

Since there was a gap of more than two miles between the Mid-City damage and damage in New Orleans’ Gentilly neighborhood where an 85-year-old woman died, the weather service considers that a second tornado from the same cell.

The weather service said 25 injuries were reported, nine of them from the first tornado.