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Trees down, thousands without power, after violent weather rakes parts of capital area

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AMITE — Powerful storms, including possibly a tornado, tore across a portion of the WBRZ viewing area on Tuesday, knocking out power to thousands in an area from St. Francisville to north of Hammond. State Police closed Interstate 55 at Amite amid damage reports from the area.

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Amite Mayor Walter Daniels said he had been told of damage but had not seen it himself.

The National Weather Service had posted a tornado warning for the area just after 5 p.m. In a later statement, the weather service said it was possible that a tornado had touched down near the intersection of La. 1045 and La. 1046. Radar images showed the storm tracking eastward, which would have taken it near businesses closer to the interstate. 

Damage reports came in from elsewhere along and north of Interstate 12, including near East Feliciana High School on the east side of Jackson and in the town of Clinton. Power outage maps showed a broad swath of utility customers without service.

Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office shared photos of a tree that fell on a home in Holden. The homeowner was not home when the tree collapsed. In Denham Springs, an apartment building caught on fire after it was struck by lightning. All occupants were evacuated and there were no reported injuries. 

Officials said power lines were down along Cheray Drive, and a tree on Red Oak Drive near Interstate 12 was blocking both lanes of traffic.

In East Baton Rouge Parish, the Pride-Baywood Road was closed because a large tree was blocking it, according to the Pride Fire Department. 

Earlier Tuesday, about half of West Feliciana Parish was without power, DEMCO reported. The utility said 2,268 of its 4,609 customers were out. It was the second time this spring the area suffered from severe weather. It was among the parishes that experienced the worst outages following severe weather, including tornadoes, that struck southern Louisiana.

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