Gerald Herbert and Rebecca Santana

Arabi, Louise (AP) – A powerful tornado took seconds to tear down roofs and destroy homes as it paved the way for destruction in the New Orleans area where one person was killed, residents said Wednesday as they picked up wreckage and mourned their neighbors.

A tornado on Tuesday night in the Arab community of St. Bernard Parish was caused by a storm system responsible for previous tornadoes in Texas that killed a woman north of Dallas and forced Governor Greg Ebbat to declare disaster in 16 counties. It also spawned a tornado that flew in the Lacombe area of ​​St. Tamani Parish, caused damage in eastern New Orleans and was blamed for torrential rain and damage to buildings in Alabama.

“My neighbor died. Why did it spare us? ” Asked Michael Bayamonte on Wednesday afternoon. He, his wife, their two sons, his father and their dog hid in a closet under the landing when a tornado crashed. “The extent of the tremors that have taken place in this house in such a short time has been phenomenal,” Bayamont said.

He added that the destruction was over in the time it took him to say “four greetings, Mary”.

Half of his roof is gone. And the house where his neighbor, 25-year-old Connor Lambert, did not exist. Lambert’s body was found among the wreckage. The St. Bernard Parish Coroner’s Office reported that he had died from numerous blunt force injuries. News reports that Lambert grew up in St. Bernard Parish and was an engineer at the Stannis Space Center in nearby Mississippi.

Gov. John Bell Edwards has declared a state of emergency in the parishes of St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson and St. Taman. Flying over the area on Wednesday, he walked the streets of Arabi, welcoming storm victims.

“It’s very sad because the destruction is so destructive,” Edwards said. “The good news is that most of your neighbors outside this narrow lane are able to help.”

In front of her home without a roof, the woman told Edwards that she, her husband and their 1-year-old son were hiding in the bathroom when the tornado collapsed.

“We just fell and he jumped on us, covering our son,” she said. “So scary.”

One of the destroyed houses belonged to Jibre Brown, who had not yet spent the night there. On Saturday, she began moving her belongings to the White House, and on Tuesday she set up TVs. They are still on the walls, she says, but the house around them is destroyed and knocked down from the foundation.

“It took me a year to find my perfect home,” said Brown, a resuscitation nurse. She gestured to the wreckage, “This is my perfect home.”

The National Weather Service said the Arabi damage was caused by a tornado with a capacity of at least EF-3, meaning it had wind speeds of 158-206 mph (254-332 km / h), while a twister in the area The locomotive was EF-1, with winds up to 90 mph (145 km / h).

TV stations broadcast live images when the storm damaged an area about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) long and half a mile wide (0.8 kilometers) in St. Bernard Parish, where, according to Ochsner Health, eight patients were treated in the emergency department.

From the air the path of the Arabi twister was reflected in a narrow strip of houses that were roofless or turned into splinters, a line of debris interrupted in places where tornadoes apparently slipped over buildings. Outside of this destruction the houses looked intact.

Louisiana has activated 300 National Guard officers to clear roads and provide support.

Arabi is near the 9th Lower House of New Orleans. Like that New Orleans neighborhood, it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and hit hard again when Hurricane Ida swept last year.

Bayamont said he and his family were living in Arabia when Katrina hit. They left but returned a few years ago. He said a lot of new construction was underway in the area thanks to parish governments encouraging further development.

“It just got louder and louder,” said Michel Malasovich, a resident of the storm, on Tuesday. Her house and jeep were damaged. Others were worse: “Our neighbor’s house is now in the middle of the street.”

Neighbors and authorities said the couple in the house came out of the rubble, seeking help to rescue their daughter, who was in a breathing machine and trapped. Guy McKinnis, president of St. Bernard Parish, later said the girl was “feeling well”.

Lauren Neupert was not at her home in Arabia when the tornado struck Tuesday night, but her partner and their 2-year-old daughter were hiding in the bathroom. They came out unscathed. But on Wednesday the blue sky was visible where the roof was torn off.

“I know it will be months before I can return to my home,” Neupert said.

As the storm front moved east, an obvious twist smashed a metal building and smashed windows east of Mobile Bay. The weather service reported more than 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rainfall overnight in downtown Alabama Silakuga. The roofs of several homes were damaged in Tokyo, Alabama, where a tornado warning was issued.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said homes were damaged in dozens of counties, and two were reported injured.

There was bad weather in Texas on Monday, and several tornadoes were recorded along Interstate Corridor 35. In Elgin, broken trees stood on rural roads, and pieces of metal hung from branches as residents cautiously stepped through the mess.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said 10 people were affected by the storm in the Crockett area, while more than a dozen were reportedly affected elsewhere. The Grayson County Emergency Management Agency said a 73-year-old woman was killed in Sherwood Shores, about 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of Dallas, but did not provide details.

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Associated Press reporters Meg Kinard of Columbia, South Carolina; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; Kimberly Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama; Ken Miller in Oklahoma City; Jill Blid in Little Rock, Arkansas; Terry Wallace in Dallas; Janet McConaughey and Kevin McGill in New Orleans; and Acacia Coronado in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.

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