The Latest: NASA: New Orleans facility closed after tornado

AP News
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Posted: Feb 08, 2017 6:50 PM
The Latest: NASA: New Orleans facility closed after tornado

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Latest on severe weather on the Gulf Coast (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

NASA says its Michoud (MEE-shoo) Assembly Facility in eastern New Orleans remains closed while security and emergency operations crews assess damage from Tuesday's tornado.

A news release says there's some electrical damage to a substation at the building where major hardware is welded for a rocket designed to explore deep space.

NASA notes that the most recently welded Space Launch System part had been moved out of that building last week.

The statement says about 40 percent to 50 percent of the facility's buildings were damaged, and four or five buildings have severe damage.

It says Wednesday's work concentrated on finishing damage assessments and restoring power to buildings in the best condition. It says those include the main NASA administration building, boiler house and U.S. Coast Guard facilities.

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5 p.m.

The National Weather Service has confirmed that a small tornado touched ground just outside New Orleans, making at least five that hit Louisiana on Tuesday.

A storm report says an EF0 tornado hit Jefferson, about 5 miles west of New Orleans in Jefferson Parish. It says that tornado knocked down big branches and did minor roof damage, with estimated winds around 80 mph.

It left a mile-long path, with a maximum width of 25 yards.

The one that hit New Orleans had 140-mph winds and left a track a half-mile wide and about 2 miles long.

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4:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service says Tuesday's tornado was the first EF-3 twister ever to hit New Orleans.

Ken Graham, meteorologist-in-charge of the local weather service office, says it had winds about 140 mph.

He says other EF-3 tornadoes have hit southeastern Louisiana. They include two on Feb. 25, 2016, in Convent, about 45 miles west of New Orleans.

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4:15 p.m.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu says he has not spoken with President Trump about getting a federal disaster declaration for New Orleans, but Trump's office called his on Tuesday, the day an EF-3 tornado hit the city.

Landrieu says city officials think the damage is severe enough for a federal disaster declaration. That would open the way for federal money to help people and public agencies, and for cleanup money.

Landrieu told a news conference that a preliminary assessment indicates that about 300 buildings were destroyed and another 640 seriously damaged.

He says the storm's path was two miles long and a half-mile wide. Landrieu says search and rescue crews checked more than 5,100 buildings to be sure nobody was inside and in danger, and then checked them all again, to be sure.

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4 p.m.

The president of a parish north of New Orleans has declared a parish-wide disaster in response to the tornado that hit Tuesday.

A news release from St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister asks any homeowner, business, church or school with damage to report it to the parish.

He says the disaster declaration is "a procedural process" that lets the local government better coordinate resources for public safety and recovery.

St. Tammany Parish was among seven hit by tornadoes Tuesday. The National Weather Service says at least four tornadoes hit Louisiana, and there may have been more.

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3:30 p.m.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu says a tornado that hit New Orleans injured about three dozen people and damaged about 300 properties along a 2- to 2 1/2-mile path.

He says in a news release that two people remain hospitalized but the rest have been treated and released.

Landrieu says 78 people spent Tuesday night in a shelter.

The news release says 10,400 Entergy customers lost power but it has been restored to about 6,700 customers. Entergy says it could be several days before everyone has power.

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1 p.m.

A woman who lives in eastern New Orleans credits God and her best friend for her survival as a tornado struck her house.

Rocqueisha (rock-EE-shuh) Williams says she was sitting on her bed and it wasn't even raining outside when the friend called her Tuesday, warning that a tornado was in her neighborhood.

While hauling a mattress into the bathroom to hunker down, she looked out her front window at a world gone grey, shot through with turquoise lightning.

When the storm passed, she found all her bedrooms damaged and her bed covered with glass. She ran to a nearby school and found it damaged, but her two sons there were safe. Her other two children also were safe at other schools.

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11:45 a.m.

A New Orleans man had just finished restoring a blighted house for sale in the city when a tornado hit.

Dwight Powell parked his 2014 Lexus in the garage to avoid hail damage, but then garage fell onto it.

He figured his truck was safely being repaired 60 miles away in Donaldsonville, but then his friend called — that truck also was hit, by another tornado.

The twisters were among at least four that hit Louisiana on Wednesday, injuring about 40 people, destroying homes and businesses and flipping cars and trucks. Another twister hit in Mississippi.

Powell says at least his wife and daughter were not home, and he and an employee escaped unharmed. He says he has to pick up the pieces and walk in faith.

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11:10 a.m.

National Weather Service teams are out getting information about at least four tornadoes that hit Louisiana and one that hit Mississippi on Tuesday.

Meteorologist Christopher Bannan says there may have been more than four in Louisiana, but it may take a day or two to check everything out.

He says crews confirmed that at least an EF2 tornado hit eastern New Orleans, and are checking to see if it was more powerful. A second crew is in Killian, east of Baton Rouge, where a tornado hit and headed north into Tangipahoa Parish. A third crew is near Donaldsonville, southeast of Baton Rouge. Bannon says a fourth confirmed tornado hit near Watson, northeast of Baton Rouge.

In Jackson, Mississippi, meteorologist Shannon Hefferan says a tornado hit Scott and Jasper counties.

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2:30 a.m.

Officials say tornadoes that struck parts of southeastern Louisiana injured about 40 people, destroyed homes and businesses, flipped cars and trucks, and left thousands without power, but no deaths were reported.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards took an aerial tour and made a disaster declaration before meeting with officials in New Orleans. The worst damage was in the same 9th Ward that was so heavily flooded in 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

Edwards says he was heartbroken to see some of the same people suffering again, and promised that the state will provide the affected residents with the resources they need as quickly as possible.

He says seven parishes were hit by tornadoes.

The wall of severe weather also delivered heavy rain and hail to Mississippi and Alabama.