National Weather Service reports EF-1 damage in Shreveport

She was in the laundromat when the storm blew up; her kids were in her vehicle
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 5:33 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 3, 2023 at 12:06 PM CST
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(KSLA) — A financial institution, an insurance agency, a laundromat and a gas station/convenience store were significantly damaged by a tornado Thursday, March 2.

A tornado not detected on radar, but confirmed by video, was observed along Bert Kouns Industrial Loop shortly before 6 p.m. The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed that it touched down along Youree Drive at Sophia Lane.

On Friday, March 3, the National Weather Service reported EF-1 damage and estimated winds of around 95 mph. No injuries were reported.

KSLA News 12 spoke with the mother of a 6-year-old and an infant who were in a car outside the laundromat when the storm blew up. David Langston was there as well. He recalls when the first transformer blew out, then the second and, with it, the lights.

“And that’s when the wind started picking up,” Langston recalled. “And this lady said, ‘My babies are in the car.’ And she wanted me to help her. And I, and I said, ‘Let’s go.’ But then all of a sudden, the wind got so bad. I said, ‘No, ma’am, don’t go out.’”

“And that’s her car underneath that sign,” he continued. “If we’d gone out there, I mean, we would’ve been hit by that sign. But anyway, it just came up. Twenty seconds later, it was gone. And I mean, total chaos, wind, I mean glass breaking out everywhere. First tornado I’ve ever been in.”

The children were treated by paramedics and are doing fine.

KSLA News 12 viewer Annette Bridges said she caught images of a funnel-shaped cloud around I-49 and Bert Kouns Industrial Loop in Shreveport as she was driving along Highway 3132 at 4:45 p.m.

On the other side of Youree Drive, a KSLA News 12 viewer said he saw a possible funnel cloud and a lot of debris in the air at LSU Shreveport. Then there were a lot of emergency vehicles in the area of Youree Drive.

Contrary to earlier reports, an LSU Shreveport spokeswoman later said, no windows were blown out on campus. However, it was a close call for a number of people, including some students. Damage there includes split and uprooted trees and soccer goals that have been tossed.

One staff member watched it all go down.

“We were unloading the car for our selection show. The rain came down really hard and really quick,” said Matthew Strickland, LSUS women’s basketball coach. “The wind started going really hard, and then we all got in that building right there. The wind started moving really quick, and that’s when the tornado came through.

“I just wanted to make sure my players were okay,” he continued. “So we all bunkered down together in the gym just like the last time there was a tornado warning.”

The Shreveport mayor’s office said five businesses were damaged by the tornado on Youree Drive. No significant injuries were reported.

“We will help to provide assistance to our citizens, and they should call 318-673-2255 to report damages,” Mayor Tom Arceneaux said in a statement released Friday, March 3.

One of the other areas of Shreveport damaged by the tornado was South Broadmoor. Two houses were heavily damaged and almost destroyed. Power lines and trees were downed throughout the neighborhood.

Damage also was reported in Shreveport’s Azalea Gardens neighborhood.

Power outages were reported in the area of Youree Drive and Bert Kouns Industrial Loop. As of 8 p.m., AEP/SWEPCO reported about 4,600 customers without power in Caddo Parish. About half of those were within an area bounded by East Kings Highway, East Flournoy Lucas Road, the Inner Loop Expressway and East Bert Kouns Industrial Loop.

Several possible tornadoes spun up as the line of storms rolled across east Texas and northwest Louisiana on Thursday evening. Twisters were reported from Mount Vernon, Texas, to Grand Cane, Louisiana, and points in between.

Video coming in from U.S. Highway 71 just southwest of Fouke, Ark., shows a funnel cloud moving through Miller County, Ark. It’s believed to have touched down there. Michael Godfrey, director of the Miller County Office of Emergency Management, said the tornado moved up through Miller County along Highway 237.

”We did have reports of a house that was damaged, collapsed and two people were trapped in it. [On] 237 just north of the Sulphur River in Miller County.”

But beforehand, it might have traveled near Atlanta, Texas, then caused damage south of Doddridge, Ark.

Other preliminary damage reports coming into the KSLA News 12 newsroom included reports of trees and power lines downed in the Kellyville area immediately west-northwest of Jefferson, Texas.

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This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.