Rayne Tornado: Victims return to assess damage

Tornado victims return home to assess damage
Jalisa Granger was the storm's only fatality. She died shielding her son from a falling tree that struck their house. A memorial fund has been set up at St. Martin Bank to help her family pay for her funeral and take care of her son.
Jalisa Granger was the storm's only fatality. She died shielding her son from a falling tree that struck their house. A memorial fund has been set up at St. Martin Bank to help her family pay for her funeral and take care of her son.

By Brandon Richards - bio | email

RAYNE, La (KPLC-TV) – For the first time since a deadly tornado ripped through the northwestern side of Rayne, residents were allowed back into their neighborhoods on Monday.

Some were fortunate that their homes suffered only minor damage, however others weren't so lucky.

Gwen Brumfield's house was among the homes declared uninhabitable because they suffered too much damage.

"I'm a paramedic and I've been in this position before with other people," said Brumfield. "But no one ever knows what people feel like until you actually been in something like this."

The storm destroyed at least 120 homes and more than 1,500 people had to be evacuated immediately after the storm.

The tornado left one person dead and about a dozen others injured.

Jalisa Granger, 21, died shielding her one-year-old son after a tree fell on to the house she shared with her mother.

A rescue team pulled out the baby first.

Fallon Goodwill, one of Jalisa Granger's neighbors, rescued Jalisa's mother, after hearing a woman screaming down the street.

"I just pulled myself through that crack and reached for her arms and she just told me not to let her go," said Goodwill. "I stood there the whole time and made sure she came out safe."

Goodwill then tried to rescue Jalisa.

"She had already passed, but I mean I did everything that I could," said Goodwill.

A few blocks away, Delia McClelland's home was also damaged.

"We're at a great loss right now, but thank God it wasn't no worse, "said McClelland.

McClelland's brother, Shelton Mouton, said the damage is worse than any hurricane to hit Rayne.

"It's a total disaster," said Mouton. "It's something I've never seen before."

The twister struck right through the center of one of the poorest neighborhoods in Rayne, in an area of town comprised mostly of blacks and low-income whites.

"The devastation is just bad and I'm sure most of these people don't have the ability to recover from it," said Brumfield. "We just hope that they can."

A team from FEMA is expected to arrive on Wednesday to determine whether any residents qualify for federal disaster assistance.

On Sunday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal met with victims, including Jalisa Granger's family, and toured the damage.

All of the victims who were injured in Saturday's storm have been released from the hospital, according to city officials.

JALISA GRANGER FUND

An account has been set up to help the family of Jalisa Granger pay for funeral expenses as well as to help care for Jalisa's one-year-old son.

The account is at St. Martin Bank and is called the Jalisa Granger Fund.

Copyright 2011 KPLC. All rights reserved.