Tickfaw — Early Sunday morning, Billy McDonald saw his floor heave as a tornado bore down.
“It got rough. I heard a lot of noise coming,” he said.
The storm passed in an instant, but when McDonald stepped out of his home, he saw two trailers across the street flipped and crumpled from the twister. Insulation stuck in bushes, power lines spilled into the gravel road and pieces of roofs littered yards where trees, including a massive oak, had been wrested from the ground.
McDonald’s aunt, Irma McDonald, had been inside one of the mobile homes and suffered a broken nose and leg, as well as a hairline fracture along her spine, Billy McDonald said. Thankfully, he said, she is expected to recover. Two more of his relatives suffered various injuries, which Billy McDonald described as ranging from scrapes to gashes.
A few hundred yards away, Sara Espinoza had been sleeping when she heard the roar of wind and water, then a crash as a tree smashed into her own mobile home. Grabbing her baby, she fled to the other side of the mobile home, where her family safely rode out the storm.
“It’s so ugly,” she said, surveying the flooded field strewn with broken tree limbs near her house, where people were burning debris.
All told, three homes were destroyed or suffered major damage, according to the Red Cross. Two people were injured, but no one was killed, the National Weather Service wrote in a statement.
The tornado touched down near Sibley Road in Tangipahoa Parish about 3:30 a.m. Sunday and traveled about 1 mile in eight minutes before dissipating, according to the Weather Service. Much of the damage occurred on Joel McDonald and Gene McDonald roads off Woodhaven Road, about 4 miles west of Tickfaw.
Meteorologists believe winds reached a peak speed of 110 mph, the upper limit for an EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.
In addition to the damage to homes and trees, the Weather Service noted that porches on two homes were thrown about 30 yards, sheds and barns were destroyed, and one tree was thrown into a pickup truck.
“No one prepares for this. … This happened in just a matter of minutes,” Billy McDonald said.
“I feel blessed that nothing worse happened. Everyone’s alive.”
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