(CNN) — At least three people have been killed and more than 10 injured in Louisiana over the past 24 hours as severe weather moves through the South, leaving a trail of destruction.
A tornado struck New Orleans around 4 p.m. local time on Wednesday, the National Weather Service confirmed. Numerous flashes of energy were observed in pole chambers as the storm moved through the eastern part of the city. Damage has also been reported, though the extent is unclear at this time.
This is one of three tornado reports that have hit the New Orleans metropolitan area in the past few hours. The weather service has yet to issue a report with details on the tornado’s path, but the hardest-hit areas were from Gretna to Arabi in Louisiana.
The bad weather this Wednesday is “worse than Hurricane Ida,” Gretna Mayor Belinda Constant told CNN affiliate WDSU. The cyclone hit the same area last year.
A 56-year-old woman “died after a tornado destroyed her home” in Killona, about 30 miles west of New Orleans, according to a tweet from the Louisiana Department of Health. The woman’s identity was not immediately released, St. Charles district officials said Wednesday.
Eight other people in the district have non-life-threatening injuries, Sheriff Greg Champagne said during a news conference Wednesday.
Champagne said the tornado was violent.
“There is a piece of debris in the levee behind you that came from our firing range, 2.7 kilometers away,” he said. He also added that this was the second time in two weeks that a tornado had hit the St. Charles district. “This one created quite a bit of devastation.”
More than 300 miles to the north, a boy and his mother were found dead after a tornado destroyed their home Tuesday in the northwestern Louisiana community of Keithville, said the Caddo Sheriff’s Office. The boy’s body was located Tuesday about a half mile from the home, Sheriff Steve Prator told KSLACNN affiliate.
The mother was found dead early Wednesday a street from where the house was, and two other people from the community were also injured, according to the sheriff’s office.
At least 20 people were injured in the small Union Parish town of Farmerville in northern Louisiana near the Arkansas border, Farmerville police Detective Cade Nolan said.
Elsewhere in the state, the devastation was visible: rubble where homes once stood and overturned cars in devastated communities where numerous residents told CNN they hid in their bathtubs in fear as the tornado passed. The storm system knocked out power to more than 30,000 customers, according to PowerOutage.us.
The severe weather that is wreaking havoc in Louisiana and across the Southeast is part of a massive system that has also been causing strong snowfall –and in some places snow storms– in the north central United States.
The threats on Wednesday come after the storms on Tuesday caused tornados and will damage homes and businesses from Oklahoma and the Dallas-Fort Worth area to Mississippi and parts of Louisiana.
at least 22 reports from tornado have been made since Tuesday from Oklahoma and Texas to Louisiana and Mississippi, including 17 from Tuesday through 6 a.m. local time Wednesday, and at least five from 6 am local time this Wednesday, including New Iberia County, Louisiana.
Along with adverse conditions there is a moderate risk of excessive rainfall that could result in flash flooding this Wednesday for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and west-central Alabama, the Storm Prediction Center says.
The risk of severe storms this Wednesday was estimated at level 4, the second highest of the five levels, for nearly 3 million people in eastern Louisiana, including New Orleans; southern Mississippi, including Gulfport; and southwestern Alabama, including Mobile, the prediction center said.
that level means that widespread severe thunderstorms are likely. Such a high risk is rare for December: There have been only five at that level in December in the past decade, a CNN Weather analysis shows.
Louisiana medical center suffers “significant” damage
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday that 12 state offices are closed due to bad weather in the state. The storms also caused the closure of the Louisiana State University and the University of the South in Baton Rouge this Wednesday.
Tornadoes have already been reported in the region on Wednesday, including in the New Orleans area.
The chaotic weather led to the closure of the Puente de la Calzada. The bridge spans 38.6 km over Lake Pontchartrain, according to the Causeway website. The bridge is considered “the world’s longest bridge over water,” says the Causeway website.
About 29 miles south of New Orleans, Jefferson District Sheriff’s Office officials assess damage and conduct search and rescue operations. Significant damage was reported in the borough, and the Sheriff’s Office is working with the fire department and local government on their damage assessment.
“Several homes and businesses have suffered catastrophic damage. At least one of our facilities suffered severe damage. No one was injured at our facility,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote on its Facebook page.
More than 100 miles to the west, a tornado on Wednesday morning damaged several homes in the city of Nueva Iberia and rescue efforts were underway to free an unspecified number of trapped people, city police said.
The New Iberia Police Department confirmed in a video posted on facebook that two tornadoes touched down in the city. The department also said that multiple homes were damaged with people trapped in the Southport subdivision after a tornado touched down.
There are now restrictions in place in the Southport subdivision of the city, the police said this Wednesday.
“Effective immediately, only citizens residing in the subdivision [de Southport] they will be able to enter the neighborhood,” the department said, adding that proof of residency will be required for access.
There is a curfew for the area from 8 pm to 5 am local time. During that time, traffic will be “restricted to residents returning from work or emergencies only,” police said.
In addition, the Iberia Medical Center “suffered a significant amount of damage,” said Police Captain Leland Laseter on Facebook. CNN requested comment from the medical center. A shelter has been set up at New Iberia Senior High School inside the gym for anyone who has been displaced.
The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday it received reports of a tornado hitting Killona, causing extensive damage to homes and a declaration of a state of emergency in the parish. St. Charles Parish is located about 20 miles upriver from New Orleans.
“The Emergency Operations Center is receiving reports of damage in the Killona area, including downed power lines and blocked roads,” it said. a Facebook post of the parish of St. Charles. “Residents should avoid the area and not touch power lines as they may still be electrified.”
Farmerville residents say the storm sounded like a train
At least 20 people were injured in the small Union Parish town of Farmerville, Louisiana, when a tornado struck Tuesday night, Farmerville Police Detective Cade Nolan said.
Parts of an apartment complex and a mobile home park in the Farmerville area were demolished, with downed trees and other debris littering a road and fields, a CNN crew saw Wednesday. In speaking with residents, many told CNN correspondents that the storm sounded like a train passing their house.
Beth Tabor weathered the storm and severe weather that hit Farmerville, she told CNN Wednesday afternoon.
“It sounds like they say, it’s a freight train,” Tabor told CNN’s Derek Van Dam. “Once everything stopped, all the noise, that’s how I knew it was safe to go out.”
While the entire ordeal of waiting in her bathroom with her roommates and a baby lasted 20 to 25 seconds, Tabor said it felt “so much more than that.”
“Every little creak and noise, I mean, it seemed like it was right on top of us,” Tabor said. “It was pretty scary, just listening…everything was flying and you couldn’t do anything about it.”
Tabor said his home was “absolutely” damaged in the storm.
“In my corridor you can see the sky, the rooms, everything is destroyed, everything is broken. The windows in the front and back were blown out,” she said. “We made it out alive last night, everyone’s accounted for, so it’s an act of God.”
Patsy Andrews was at home with her children when a tornado struck Farmerville Tuesday night. she told KNOE-TV, CNN affiliatewho was praying in a line of faith when a heavy rain started and outside it sounded like “wind blowing like a train”.
He went to the back door to look outside and investigate because the wind was so strong. Her son told him not to open the door, but it was too late.
“Then all of a sudden the wind was so strong it broke my back door,” Andrews said. “The lights went out and all we could hear was glass breaking everywhere.”
She said she and her daughter dropped to the ground, not knowing which way to crawl.
“Everywhere we went, things were coming through our windows. The glass was exploding,” Andrews said.
They made it to a safe place in the hallway, he said, but it didn’t seem safe enough because glass was breaking and smashing everywhere and water was dripping from the ceiling. Her daughter ended up opening the bathroom door and the family got into the bathtub.
“We got into the bathtub and hugged each other. We kept praying and I kept calling out to Jesus,” Andrews said.
Her family weathered the storm, but the aftermath left her in awe. Every room in her house is leaking water, she said, but those are material items, so she isn’t too concerned.
“My neighbor’s car flipped over and overturned. So the cars out front were thrown into the woods across the street, septic tanks were ripped out of the ground, all of our DirecTV was ripped out of the ground. So this storm really came and hit us,” he said.
Tiyia Stringfellow, her boyfriend and their two young children were at their Farmerville apartment when Tuesday’s tornado damaged it, she told CNN.
We were in the kitchen cupboard. All we heard was a hiss, and my boyfriend got up to look out the window and saw the tornado. The whole house was shaking and (I saw) my roof caved in, and the house went dark,” Stringfellow said, adding that none of them were hurt.
CNN’s Derek Van Dam, Kevin Conlon, Rob Shackelford, Nouran Salahieh, Michelle Watson, Amanda Jackson, Paradise Afshar, Matt Phillips, Jeremy Grisham and Dave Alsup contributed to this report.