BOSSIER CITY, La. (KTAL/KMSS) –The National Weather Service has confirmed that an EF2 tornado touched down in Haughton overnight, according to Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington.
The storm, which claimed the lives of 79-year-old Jerry W. Franks and his 65-year-old wife, Mary Sue Franks, had winds estimated at 135 miles per hour, Whittington said.
“That’s pretty strong and the mobile home where these people lived – nothing left but the blocks,” the Bossier sheriff said. The home was located on the 400-block of Davis Road.
The couple’s three pets – two Chihuahuas and a German Shepherd – were initially unaccounted for following the tornado, but the German Shepherd was later found alive in the rubble and taken to the vet for some wounds. One of the Chihuahuas was found dead, and family members continue to search for the other one.
The BPSO set up a mobile command center at the intersection of Highway 157 and Sligo Road, and deputies are making rounds in the area where the storm hit the hardest.
Whittington said deputies are checking on people, making sure that they’re OK. He said when out-of-town relatives can’t get hold of their loved ones since the power is out and phones aren’t working, they contact the Sheriff’s Office, and deputies go check on them….”just to be sure everybody is OK, No. 1, and that they have somewhere to go and stay, if need be.”
The Bossier Sheriff’s Office put plans in place before the storm hit, and started responding immediately.
But, according to BPSO Lt. Bill Davis, it’s tricky business. “You don’t know about electrical lines and other hazards. And so, it’s a very methodical process.”
“Everybody knows that after a tornado comes through, even though you’ve lived through them your entire life, sometimes you can’t even tell where you are,” Whittington said.
Davis said when storms hit overnight, it’s harder because it’s dark. He added, when they heard there were two fatalities, they were uncertain whether there were more, so they went door-to-door.
“These storms were powerful, and these storms, unfortunately, were deadly.”
He added that when storms come in overnight, even when they’re predicted, people want to go to sleep, adding, “It’s just an unfortunate, unfortunate situation when you have a loss of life.”
According to Davis, the recovery effort was and continues to be a full-court press by the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Department, as well as volunteers.
Reserve deputies and posse members, both volunteer groups, worked alongside regular deputies throughout the night and continue to work.
People who have suffered damage to their homes or businesses are asked to call the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness at (318) 425-5352, so every damaged area in the parish can be addressed.