A tornado ripped through a neighborhood outside Lake Charles on Wednesday, severely damaging a number of homes and leaving one man hospitalized. It was the latest weather disaster to hit the region, beginning with Hurricane Laura in 2020.

LAKE CHARLES -- Gov. John Bel Edwards visited this weather-battered city on Thursday to view damage from a tornado that ripped through a residential neighborhood the day before, but also spoke of efforts to secure more disaster relief funding to jump-start southwest Louisiana’s slow recovery from Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

Edwards arrived the morning after the tornado damaged an estimated 40 homes in a neighborhood south of the city limits, injuring two people and forcing some who had just finished rebuilding from the hurricanes to start anew. Calcasieu Parish Emergency Preparedness Director Dick Gremillion said as many as 20 of those homes sustained serious damage, slightly fewer than his estimate the previous day.

Neither of the two injuries were life-threatening. One man who was inside a collapsed house had cuts to his leg and foot, while a woman was hurt when a window blew into her home.

The National Weather Service has classified the tornado as an EF2, with estimated peak winds of 130 mph. Its path was 2.2 miles long and 300 yards wide. The tornado-rating scale resembles that for hurricanes, with the strongest tornadoes rated EF5.

Edwards said a major disaster declaration would be unlikely since the damage was to a limited area. Many of the affected homeowners in the suburban area are believed to have had insurance as well.

The governor spoke of the challenges the region has faced since August 2020, when Laura roared through as one of the strongest storms in state history. It was followed six weeks later by Category 2 Hurricane Delta, an unusually harsh winter storm in February and severe flooding in May.

“I mean, seriously, enough is enough,” Edwards told reporters after viewing damage. “And the people are resilient and they're very generous and hardworking, faithful people, but that's enough to test anybody. And so my heart breaks any time we see this sort of damage anywhere, but particularly here in southwest Louisiana, with everything that’s going on.”

Calcasieu Parish Police Jury President Brian Abshire also noted the previous year’s difficulties, calling the tornado “just another blow.”

Lake Charles news in your inbox

Once a week we'll send you the top stories we find in the Lake Area

Congress finally appropriated long-term disaster relief for southwest Louisiana at the end of September, and the total amount was confirmed this week at around $600 million.

Local officials say that amount is far too low to adequately rebuild after four natural disasters during a pandemic. They have pointed out that other regions have received far more money in a much faster timeframe after enduring one disaster.

Abshire has said “this feel-good bill makes no one but the federal politicians actually feel good, and will do very little for Calcasieu Parish.” Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter has called it “shameful” and a “pittance.”

Edwards agrees that the amount is too low and has been pressing the White House to push for further funding, not only for Laura and Delta recovery, but also for Hurricane Ida. He visited the White House again last week and delivered a letter spelling out further needs.

Efforts are now focused on a spending bill that Congress must pass before Dec. 3 to avoid a government shutdown. Further relief dollars could be included in it.

“At the end of the day, I remain optimistic that we will receive the funding necessary in order to effect a good recovery,” Edwards said. “And again, the $596 million is a good start, but it is just a start.”

Edwards has spelled out $3 billion in unmet needs following Laura, Delta and Hurricane Zeta, which hit southeast Louisiana in October 2020. A series of further steps remain necessary before the initial $600 million approved can be delivered.

The governor is set to attend next week’s international climate summit in Scotland, where he is expected to promote the state’s efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions by using carbon capture, among other strategies.