KILLONA, La. (WGNO) — Emergency responders are on the scene of what officials say is heavy damage caused by Wednesday’s severe weather west of New Orleans in St. Charles Parish.
Around 3 p.m., Chief Meteorologist Hank Allen at Nexstar’s WGNO confirmed a tornado touched down in the parish. Video captured by WGNO photographer Cole Walker shows a large funnel cloud forming near I-310 on the Luling Bridge. This was later confirmed to be the storm that developed the tornado.
Early reports from the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office say that the extent of the damage recorded so far is in the area of Schoolhouse Road in Killona. Damages are said to include downed power lines, potential gas leaks, and blocked roads. Residents are urged to stay inside as officials assess the damage.
Parish president Mathew Jewel has declared a State of Emergency amid Wednesday’s storms.
Authorities say eight people were taken to hospitals with injuries Wednesday afternoon and one woman was found dead outdoors after a suspected tornado struck the community of Killona along the Mississippi River, damaging homes and flinging debris.
WGNO crews are working to gather additional information.
In northern Louisiana on Tuesday, it took hours for authorities to find the bodies of a mother and child reported missing after a tornado swept away their mobile home Tuesday in Keithville, a rural community near Shreveport.
“You go to search a house and the house isn’t even there, so where do you search?” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters, noting the challenge faced by emergency responders as he toured a mile-long path of destruction in Keithville.
The Caddo Parish Coroner’s Office said the body of 8-year-old Nikolus Little was found around 11 p.m. Tuesday in a wooded area. His mother, Yoshiko A. Smith, 30, was found dead under storm debris around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Smith’s body was discovered one street over from where their home had been. Her son was found dead as far as a half-mile away, said Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Sgt. Casey Jones. He said the boy’s father had left to buy groceries before the storm hit.
“He just went to go shopping for his family, came home and the house was gone,” said Jones. When deputies arrived, they found nothing but a concrete slab.
Wednesday’s forecast called for more severe storms with additional tornadoes expected across an area of the Gulf Coast region populated by nearly 3 million people from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama. More damaging weather also was possible in the Florida panhandle.
A steady stream of tornado warnings was issued Wednesday across portions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
A tornado was reported in northern Louisiana’s Union Parish Tuesday night, and a suspected tornado damaged several buildings on the campus of New Iberia Medical Center in the southwest part of the state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.