Two killed in tornado near Mamou - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Two killed in tornado near Mamou

By Marty Briggs - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Hurricane Gustav's remnants spawned severe weather in much of southwest Louisiana and Acadiana on Wednesday.  Worst hit was Mamou in Evangeline Parish.  Folks there were hit hard by Gustav on Monday.  Now, they must deal with a pre-dawn tornado that claimed two lives and severely injured another.  

The tornado's path of destruction was at least 100 yards wide, with mobile homes in the area left in ruins -- their contents blown across a nearby field.  "I was watching TV until about 12:00, and they kept saying the tornados were heading toward northern Evangeline Parish, and then Allen Parish and Beauregard, Oberlin and Oakdale.  I thought maybe we had it made, you know, but then it come back and it got us," says Mamou Resident Clinton Landreneau.  Roger Erickson of the National Weather Service adds:  "Looking at the two mobile homes specifically that were damaged here, they got picked up and tossed maybe 100, 200 yards.  To do that kind of damage, especially to mobile homes that weren't properly tied down, we are looking at the possibility of an EF-2 tornado, so we might have had wind speeds in excess of 125 miles per hour."  

However, houses on either side of the tornado's path were left untouched.  Alden Bellow's house was right next door to the damaged trailers, and says:  "No, no damage at all.  I was fairly surprised because it passed 20, 30 yards from my house, and I ain't got a shingle off, even my siding is intact, so I'm okay.  

Neighbors say the victims were all staying in the same trailer.  Edward Carroll was one of the first to respond.  "We were laying in the camper because we had a generator hooked up to it, so we had the AC going in there, and it started shaking and didn't think much of it, but then all of a sudden we heard a loud noise and debris started hitting the camper and that woke us up. We came outside and were in about six inches of standing water."

Neighbor Lee Ardoin says he's never seen anything like this.  "First time I ever witnessed anything like this as far as a tornado in 23 years of living here."  

At the early hour of 3:00 AM, much of Mamou was unaware of the potential for devastating weather, although warnings were issued.  

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