SABINE PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The National Weather Service in Shreveport says preliminary survey findings indicate it was an EF2 tornado that touched down early Sunday morning in Sabine Parish, injuring at least six people.
According to NWS Shreveport, the tornado with winds estimated around 125 mph cut a path 3.6 miles long and 1/2 mile wide. An EF2 tornado can pack winds of 111 to 135 miles per hour and is considered strong, causing considerable damage to homes and snapping or uprooting large trees.
It happened just before 5 a.m. in the Peason community off LA Highway 118 in the southeastern part of the parish, causing widespread and significant damage. The National Weather Service says it touched down about seven miles northeast of Hornbeck and lifted nine minutes later 10 miles east of Florien, but limited access to public roads made it difficult to pinpoint exactly.
Surveyors called the maximum width of the tornado track “impressive” for the level of damage it caused in such a rural area, noting, “This tornado was quite anomalous for its above average width in relation to its relatively short path length.”
The survey suggested the tornado was most intense in a narrower corridor from Highway 118 to where it crossed McInnis Road.
“In this corridor damage indicators on several structures were at an EF2 level. The peak wind speed of 125 mph was associated with a completely destroyed mobile home which had its remnants blown approximately 60 feet and piled up against a tree line. All of a family of 5 in the mobile home at the time of the tornado were injured, with a few receiving critical injuries.”
According to family and friends, an eight-year-old girl was taken to Oschner LSU Shreveport with a fractured neck and spine. The girl’s father was airlifted to Rapides Regional Medical Center with serious chest injuries, a fractured sternum, and spine injuries. The children’s mother was not hospitalized, but their two young boys were also taken to the hospital in Rapides Parish with cuts and bruises.
Another person was injured farther downstream from this area, but that injury was not critical.
Some 30 homes were damaged in all and the NWS says ten to fifteen of them were heavily damaged, destroyed, or rendered unliveable.
In addition, the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office said five barns, two sets of chicken houses, and many outdoor sheds and vehicles were damaged or destroyed. The NWS says their survey team documented casualties of at least two horses.
The storm took down trees and power lines, knocking out power to more than 2,800 customers from Mansfield in De Soto Parish to Natchitoches and Hornbeck in Vernon Parish, according to SWEPCO.
Hwy 118 was passable, but the sheriff’s office warned it would be totally shut down at times as crews worked to clear debris and downed power lines. Sabine Parish Detention Center Trustees have also been on the scene since early Sunday morning to cut and move trees and debris.
“There has been an overwhelming and unbelievable amount of support from volunteers and neighbors helping neighbors today,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post late Sunday afternoon. “The American Red Cross, U.S. Forest Service and the National Weather Service has been in the area today assessing the damage. The Shreveport Volunteer Network also came to the scene with equipment and volunteers.”
Sabine Parish Sheriff Deputies are expected to remain in the area through the night and over the next few days.
The sheriff’s office says anyone wishing to donate items or anyone in the area in need can go to Pine Grove Baptist Church on Highway 118. Those in need of items can call 318-315-0808, 318-379-8797, 318-508-3843 or the Sheriff’s Office at 318-256-9241, and the sheriff’s office will have items delivered.
This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.