200 homes and buildings damaged in LaPlace, many unlivable
LAPLACE, La. (WWLTV) - St. John the Baptist Parish remained under a state of emergency Wednesday as clean up continued in LaPlace as residents pick up the pieces of their homes after a violent storm charged through the parish Tuesday afternoon.
Parish President Natalie Robottom said that 200 homes or businesses suffered damage, several left with only a slab.
The homes were damaged when a suspected tornado cut a swath through the parish, hitting areas such as Cambridge, Riverlands Subdivision -- Ellerslie, Greenwood, Madewood and West Frisco -- Palmetto, Indigo Parkway, the Meadows, and Belle Terre. The National Weather Service is in LaPlace and checking to confirm that a tornado struck. They believe that two tornadoes set down in St. John the Baptist Parish - one near Manchac, which did little damage, and the other, which caused the devastation in LaPlace.
Schools in the parish will remain closed on Wednesday, and restoring power to parts of the parish remains an issue. "The schools will remain closed until there is clear access and power is restored," said Robottom. In addition exit 206 for LaPlace is closed as well.
Sheriff Mike Tregre said the community would pick itself back up, much like it did after Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac, and he warned any opportunists who might come to the area trying to 'find' valuables among the wreckage to think twice. "Let these citizens rebuild their lives," he said.
Homeowners recounted the harrowing ordeal as the storm approached. "As soon as we got in the bathroom and closed the door and I got them (my children) in the tub, the window on the front of my house blew in that it created so much of a suction we had to hold the door shut," said one man in the Meadows subdivision. "The say it sounds like a freight train; it really does."
Early estimates of the damage had about 20 homes that were so damaged that residents couldn't stay at them, said Robottom.
Seven people came to the shelter set up at Emily C. Watkins Elementary. "But we know that there are a lot more individuals affected this storm," said Robottom. "It's some of the same people who were affected during Hurricane Isaac."
Over 9,000 are still without power in the parish, as of Wednesday morning, according to Entergy. Crews are already working to restore power, starting on the major corridor along Airline Highway. Most power is expected to be restored by Thursday.
Crews are trying to get power back to businesses such as Walmart, which is still without power. Robottom said Home Depot and Ace Hardware in the parish are open for residents looking to secure their properties and work on their homes.