Today marks the 20th anniversary of the F4 Easter tornado that struck Caddo and Bossier Parishes. As a result, the tornado claimed seven lives. The same complex of showers and storms produced three F3 tornadoes in NW Louisiana.
Benton Fire Chief J.T. Wallace was watching a golf tournament when the rain and storms moved into the area. “I heard sirens begin in Bossier City. They started and they continued to grow,” said Wallace.
The tornado developed over Cross Lake in Caddo Parish. As the tornado moved northeast, the tornado caused damage near Southern University. In Bossier Parish, the tornado hit the Hay Meadow Mobile Home Park destroying about 100 mobile homes. The tornado lifted east of Cypress Lake.
“The landmarks that was on the path were no longer there. The storm produced tree damage and twisted metal around trees. Cars were in places that they shouldn’t have been,” said Wallace.
After surveying the damage, Wallace knew the storm claimed lives. He didn’t know how many.
“My report to the hospital was that we could have hundreds of causalities. Trees that covered entire subdivisions that had to be hand lifted to make the initial searches,” said Wallace.
Twenty years later, the community in Benton is fully recovered. Chief Wallace is mindful of how quickly things can during severe weather. ” If you receive a weather alert, take action now!” said Wallace.
The Easter weekend tornado remains the deadliest to hit Louisiana since the Delhi tornado of 1971.
On average in the ArkLaTex, we see the most tornadoes in April.