RAYNE, La (KPLC-TV) – On Sunday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal met with victims and toured the damage left behind by a deadly tornado in Rayne.
The tornado, which struck the town's northern neighborhoods on Saturday morning, left one person dead and about a dozen others injured.
The storm destroyed at least 120 homes and more than 1,500 people were evacuated from the hardest hit areas out of concern over gas leaks and downed power lines.
Most of the evacuees were receiving help from family and friends. About 29 others were taking shelter at the Rayne Fire Station, which was converted into a community shelter for displayed storm victims. The American Red Cross is assisting them.
Jindal toured the damage from a helicopter and then on the ground, first at a destroyed public housing facility and then at the home of a mother who died protecting her young son.
"The damage is tremendous," Jindal told reporters. "The only way to truly understand it is to see it."
Jindal said he was amazed by the work of the local emergency responders and pledged to do everything he could to help Rayne recover.
"Rayne is coming back better and stronger then it was before, thanks to the strong people that live here and call this community home everyday," said Jindal.
Emergency officials started letting some residents, whose houses received only minor damage, back into their homes late Sunday. Officials were hoping to slowly let others back in once certain areas were deemed safe.
The mayor of Rayne, James Petitjean, said the estimated 120 homes that were deemed inhabitable would affect about 600 residents.
The father of Jalisa Granger, the 21-year-old victim who died protecting her son after a tree fell on to the home she shared with her mother, said his son was the person who first broke the news of the tragedy to him.
"He said 'Daddy they're all dead!' I said, 'What? What's going on?" recalled Jude Granger. "He told me 'Daddy they're all dead!' I said, 'Oh please don't tell me all this, not my daughter, not my baby girl."
Granger described his daughter as someone who was always there for him in his time of need.
"I love my grandson and I love my daughter," he said. "I'm sorry for this to happen."
Rayne city officials plan on helping the Granger Family set up an account through a local bank to collection donations.
Jindal said FEMA will arrive to the town on Wednesday to access the situation and to determine whether anyone qualifies for federal assistance.
Officials said the best way for people to help is by making monetary donations to the American Red Cross.
"That's what's going to be needed, especially here because this is going to be a major rebuilding operation," said Tony Credeur, CEO of the Acadiana Chapter of the American Red Cross.
All of the victims who were injured in Saturday's storm have been released from the hospital, according to city officials.