Possible tornado causes damage in Baker

BAKER, LA (WAFB) - A line of damage is what is left in Baker, LA where officials say a possible tornado touched down Monday morning.

Baker, La Police Chief Mike Knapp says a tornado caused damage in Baker early Monday morning. The National Weather Service is en route to make an official determination.

The Baker Fire Department reports 150 properties were damaged by the storm. A "walking curfew" is in place from dusk until dawn. This means they will let you go to the store, but would prefer to keep streets clear so they can get the lights back on and the debris cleaned up.

Chief Knapp said it damaged the roof of a car wash on LA 19 in Baker. He said the area along South Magnolia Drive also received significant damage.

There are also reports of damage in the Lincoln Heights Subdivision off New Rafe Meyer Road in Alsen, which is near Baker. It is located south of South Magnolia Drive. A resident there said a neighbor's carport is in another neighbor's front yard.

People said there were two downed telephone poles, downed trees, shingles scattered about and damaged mailboxes in the neighborhood.

There were reports of damage from the Pride area as well. It has not been confirmed whether the damage was caused by a tornado. The rooftops of several sheds were seen scattered about. One witness said the damage was from LA 64 to Peairs Road.

"[I] just heard a big bam. I thought the world was coming to an end," said resident Renwick Jarvis.

Jarvis was wrenched from his sleep early Monday morning when a huge oak tree in his yard came crashing through his roof. "Tornado just came through just from house to house," said Jarvis.

"I was about 150 feet from where it landed," said the Mayor of Baker, Harold Rideau. The mayor said he watched a tornado touchdown as he was driving to City Hall. He watched it peel the roof off the car wash on Highway 19. From there the Mayor says the tornado continued through the city.

"It was real scary. Everything was just flying around, tossed around," said Mayor Rideau.

In a neighborhood nearby, another Baker man said he actually fled from his home when a tree crushed his roof.

"I started running as I was running into this ditch right here, I seen stuff flying by my head and the power line, it came and slapped me in the shoulder and twisted me around and I just laid there in the ditch," said resident Crey Lee.

With the strongest winds now quite, the biggest concern from officials is the damage and debris blocking many neighborhoods.

"Do not touch power lines, do not go around them. Do not, if your power is off, do not try to fool with your breaker, just let us know," said Fire Chief Danny Edwards. He says the Public Works department are now clearing limbs off of the streets.

The Mayor says the Emergency Operations are open and crews are on the ground working to clear out the damage as quickly as possible. The Mayor also says residents can call City Hall with any questions or concerns. The number to City Hall is 225-778-0300.

Red Cross volunteers are opening a shelter Monday night for residents who have storm-related damages. The shelter at Bethany World Prayer Center, 13855 Plank Road, Zachary, will open at 6 p.m.

Red Cross volunteers have been assisting throughout the day in the Baker/Alsen area, as well as later in Ascension Parish. They have provided tarps, as well as food and water.

Residents in need of shelter tonight should bring:

  • prescription and emergency medication
  • medical equipment such as a wheelchair/walker, oxygen, etc.
  • extra clothing
  • pillows
  • blankets and sleeping bags
  • hygiene supplies
  • specialty snacks and juices for those with dietary restrictions
  • supplies for infants
  • other comfort items

And bring special items for children and infants, such as diapers, formulas and toys.

Copyright 2012 WAFB. All rights reserved.