Residents in Lafourche Parish remember F-4 tornado of 1964

LAROSE, LA (WAFB) - Hundreds fled to Larose in Lafourche Parish in 1964, trying to get away from Hurricane Hilda. It was the F-4 tornado that hit right before the hurricane that leveled the area.

There's not a day that goes by that someone in that community doesn't mention the tornado. Now that parts of Oklahoma are experiencing the same devastation, people in Larose say their thoughts are with them.

"I can relate to what they're going through," Bobby Angelette said. He was 16 at the time. "1964. October 3rd of 1964."

Angelette says if his memory serves him, some 200 people were injured in the tornado that year and 22 were killed. Neighbor Nicholas Danos remembers one family there buried 10 people after the tornado.

"There were only about 50 residents here. But with all the people that evacuated here, there was about 400-500 people," Angelette recalled.

Angelette says his family had lived in the area for about three weeks. They left another area ahead of the hurricane, fearing flooding.

He remembers that day his family was up early, preparing the house for the hurricane when they heard a freight train sound. Angelette remember his dad saying it must be a hurricane.

"He grabbed pads from sofas and couches and threw them over us. We all laid on the floor...The next thing I remember is hearing a noise. Windows breaking...felt churning in my stomach. There were boats in the bayou, people who were riding out the storm here, they saw our house go up as high as these utility lines," said Angelette.

Some say the house looked like it exploded in the air. Angelette says he went unconscious at some point. He was found 300 feet from where the house landed. When his parents found him, he remembers hearing his dad say, "Looks like Bobby's dead." He had been hit in the head with something. There's now a scar from his head down to his chin, from where more than 200 stitches were placed to hold his head together.

Nicholas Danos remembers seeing Angelette's father driving all his children to the hospital, in the back of a pickup truck. Angelette says that truck was the only one unharmed in the tornado. Danos says the tornado missed his house. All he had was a broken door and two broken windows. He says as soon as things calmed down outside, he began to walk and look at the damage. He soon found himself helping to dig through rubble, finding survivors and getting them to ambulances that were waiting on the street.

He remembers searching one house for his wife's aunts.

"We couldn't find them. They were buried underneath the debris," Danos said. "I could hear them. They were saying the rosary in French. One would say the first part, the other would answer."

Surviving that tornado, both men say made them stronger.

"After that tornado we became more than family, believe me," Danos said.

Now that someone else is going through the same tragedy they were once faced with, they say they are reminded everyday how precious life is.

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