It is a dark New Orleans morning so dark that it looks like the late afternoon like dusk and there is lightning and there is thunder and the trees the branches are moving largely back and forth, can hear an immense rustle of the leaves and there is constant lightning and thunder now, an there is a warning of tornados.
A Line of Heavy Weather Rips Through New Orleans
I used to think that we would never have a tornado within the city of New Orleans. By that I did not mean Metairie or New Orleans East or across the river which have experienced tornados. I was talking about the old town where there are thick canopies of trees everywhere and it was my thinking that trees mess up the ability of a tornado to form and so we don’t have to worry.
I remember too one day in the middle of the day when it was storming and looking outside I saw the trees swirling like yes what might happen if a tornado was forming. But nothing really happened. We got some wind, some rain and that was it.
So I’ve lived with this idea that well you know we got nothing to worry about because we live in a thickly tree lined neighborhood and no tornado worth its salt would be able to form. My mom who is now 101 had said she had never heard of a tornado hitting within the old city of New Orleans.
I was thinking this until several years ago, a year after Hurricane Katrina, in fact, when one night around 3 AM I heard this horrible sound outside the window. It woke me up. It was a giant sound, something big, something whipping against the window, and moments after I woke up I jumped out of bed and ran through my bedroom door and I soon as I did, wham! the windows blew in and scattered glass all over the floor, the bed, and, I found out the next morning, had impaled shards of glass into the wall right next to where I was sleeping.
As soon as the sound died all was quiet. Within moments I saw people in the street and walking downstairs and through my front door I discovered that the huge pine tree near the street in front of our house had snapped in half sending the upper part toward our house just missing the corner of the house by mere inches but crumpling the cast iron fence and our step railing.
All the furniture and stuff on the screen porch had been pushed together in a pile in the center of the porch and the both ends of the screen on either side of the porch had been blown through.
A house across the street which had been recently purchased and gutted, now this was an old house with plaster and, for some inexplicable reason, they had also removed the lathe so the structure had no lateral stability. Looking at the house straight on you could see where it was completely tilted to one side. Dang, I thought, how were they going to fix his thing?
We discovered that a tornado had formed on the other side of the river, jumped across the river and plowed through the Black Pearl neighborhood and bounced along down the Carrollton section, down the avenue picking and choosing places to damage and finally ending somewhere in New Orleans East where it killed a poor woman in her Katrina trailer.
We were lucky. We six windows broken, all the metal furniture, umbrella and other stuff in our back yard had been pushed into a pile. A day later I walked into our large shed, which had a standing seam roof, and as I opened the door I saw all this light coming down and looking up I realize we had no more roof.
Not only that when I went to look outside for the roof it was nowhere to be found. It was only till a couple years later at a party at our neighbors house did I find out that it had completely peeled off and landed in their back yard. Wow.
After bouncing down our street the tornado hit the next street completely ripping the roof off a house on the corner, then next to it tearing off the front of a two story house making it look like a doll house where you could see all the front rooms filled with furniture.
It did little damage to the house next to it but another house over it tore up their roof. Then it bounced to another house down the street did some damage and made a path down Carrollton Avenue and eventually all the way out to New Orleans East.
So now when I hear about tornado warnings I am not so confident that we’ll not experience another on our street. Just this morning while typing this I closed the curtains next to my desk just in case a window broke through scattering glass, rain and debris all over it and possibly damaging the computer.
At the height of the storm the sky was almost dark as night and I could see the trees swirling and whipping. At times the wind was driving hard and fast down the street, must have been at least 50 miles an hour or more. And when I stepped outside on our porch to retrieve our still surviving and thriving large poinsettia from two Christmases ago which had been knocked over by the wind, I could feel the air was very cool. It felt nice and refreshing.
Now as I finish this the rain has let up but the wind is back not as strong as before but letting us know that this thing is not done yet as the back end of the dangerous storm passes over us. New Orleans has been spared any tornadoes this time.