Two tornadoes early Thursday tore through New Orleans neighborhoods that were hit hard by Hurricane Katrina just five months earlier, collapsing at least one previously damaged house and battering the airport, authorities said.
Roofs were ripped off and utility poles came down, but no serious injuries were reported.
“Don’t ever ask the question, ‘What else could happen?”’ said Marcia Paul Leone, a mortgage banker who was surveying the new damage to her Katrina-flooded home.
She would go no farther than the front porch of her house Thursday morning. Windows were blown out, and the building appeared to be leaning.
“I’ve been in the mortgage business for 20 years. I know when something’s unsafe,” she said.
Electricity was knocked out for most of the morning at Louis Armstrong International Airport, grounding passenger flights and leaving travelers to wait in a dimly lit terminal powered by generators. The storm also ripped off part of a concourse roof, slammed one jetway into another, and flipped motorized runway luggage carts.
“Everything’s still backed up and the whole day is going to be messed up,” airport spokeswoman Michelle Duffourc said after power returned midday.
“There’s more damage to the terminal than I saw during the hurricane,” she added.
A line of severe thunderstorms moved across the area around 2:30 a.m. Tim Destri, of the National Weather Service, said it appeared the damage was caused by two tornadoes, one that hit the airport and another that moved into New Orleans.
The storm collapsed at least one house in New Orleans’ hurricane-ravaged lakefront, police said.
“I cannot believe this. We were hit twice. It’s not bad enough we got 11 feet of water,” said Maria Kay Chetta, a city grants manager. While her own home was not badly damaged, one across the street lost its roof and another had heavy damage to its front.
Police spokesman Capt. Juan Quinton, who lived in that area, said that gutters were ripped off his already flood-damaged house and that toppled trees blocked the alley behind his house.
A federal trailer was pulled off its moorings and plumbing hookups, he said.
“It’s an act of God and there’s nothing we can do about it, so I just don’t worry about it anymore,” Quinton said.
The wind also blew down a radio tower near a major thoroughfare, authorities said.