Some facing more recovery following strongest tornado to hit Calcasieu Parish in over 20 years

Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) – It’s back to square one for several residents hit by Wednesday’s tornado in south Lake Charles.

Governor John Bel Edwards was in Lake Charles surveying the damage Thursday. And afterward, he held a news conference.

Reports from the National Weather Service said it was an EF-2 tornado that passed through south Lake Charles, causing significant damage to roughly a dozen homes and minor damage to several more.

“I kept hearing the warnings that it was going to hit our area about 12:20 p.m., and it was about that time that I heard the wind howling. And then, I heard a shrill whistle,” resident Debbie Lemoine said.

Reports show the tornado was about 300 yards wide with speeds reaching 130 mph. It’s thought to have been on the ground for 2.2 miles.

“I heard a big boom, came out the door and seen the RV flipped over,” resident Devin Rivett said.

The tornado warning on Devin Rivett’s phone woke him up, but just moments later, he heard a big boom and jumped into action.

“Immediately went into ‘go mode’ and went around the back, broke open the camper, climbed over the bedroom, and [my] father-in-law was in the recliner,” Rivett said.

Rivett said his father-in-law was living in a camper because of Hurricane Laura. He said he found his father-in-law on his back, in the recliner, holding up a coffee table from falling on him.

”The couch missed his head by a couple of inches, but he was just laying in the recliner,” Rivett said. “And he couldn’t get out because he recently had a stroke.”

Remarkably, he was uninjured.

Across the street, Lemoine heard shrieking outside.

“A young girl was driving down Ham Reid and a trampoline blew over. And she just panicked and ran out of her car and came here,” Lemoine said.

It wasn’t until later that Lemoine realized her house had been damaged.

“I think it helped me comforting her that once I noticed the damage, I didn’t lose it, because I was busy comforting her,” Lemoine said.

Lemoine said she’s never been through anything like this before.

“This was scary, scarier than anything I’ve been through,” Lemoine said.

Governor John Bel Edwards understands the state of Southwest Louisiana and said he’s going to make sure no one is left behind.

“We don’t want anyone to be left behind, that’s just not what we’re about in Louisiana. Am I afraid it’s going to happen? Yeah, I’m concerned about that. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing, but at the end of the day, I remain optimistic that we’re going to receive the funding necessary in order to effect a good recovery,” Gov. Edwards said.

This week the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced about $595 million will be awarded to help with the recovery after Hurricane Laura.

But, Governor Edwards said even though he appreciates the money, it’s not enough.

“I don’t believe that the allocation that was given to Louisiana, out of the $1.6 billion in the appropriation for community development block grant funding for 2020 storms across the country, will be sufficient to address the most pressing need for Southwest Louisiana, which is the unmet need for housing,” Gov. Edwards said.

The Governor said at least two people were injured.

One woman when the window of her home blew in and a second person with a deep cut from flying debris.

Written by Madison Glaser

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