St. Amant community comes together after tornado touches down

Michael Tortorich
Parts of the Ascension Door and Window building landed on top of a truck. A tornado rolled through the St. Amant area late Thursday and damaged several homes and businesses.

Severe weather caused damage to houses and businesses in Ascension Parish late Thursday night to early Friday morning, prompting the closure of most schools.

The National Weather Service had issued a tornado watch for 22 parishes in southeast Louisiana, including Ascension, Thursday through Friday.

At around 11:40 p.m. Thursday, parish officials received the call of a possible tornado in the St. Amant area.

St. Amant Fire Chief James E. LeBlanc reported several power lines fell during the night. He warned everyone to stay away from downed lines in such situations.

LeBlanc praised the efforts of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office and the parish Office of Emergency Preparedness. He also thanked all of the officials, power companies, the Red Cross and numerous volunteers who spent the day making sure everyone had all of the resources they needed to get the community back to normalcy.

“Today you showed this community that you will invest whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of many. Becoming involved in the life of another resident when they are in need brings a stronger community, and I cannot thank you enough,” he said to department members.

Several buildings were damaged in the area.

Some of the worst destruction was inflicted on the home of 49-year-old Sally Landry at 43163 Weber City Road.

The house was moved off its foundation. The stormy weather destroyed much of the house except for the bedroom where she was sleeping.

Along with her dog Conan, Landry was able to escape without sustaining any major injuries.

Help came quickly. An Ascension Parish deputy came to her rescue, along with an outpouring of support. Several volunteers showed up with food and donations. A man from Livingston Parish chipped in $2,000 to help Landry get back on her feet.

Offers also came in to provide housing for Landry for as long as she needed.

A mobile home on R. Daigle Road also was ripped apart by winds with 95-year-old Ruth Jerome inside.

Though she took a fall, she suffered minor injuries limited to a cut on the hand and soreness.

Several St. Amant firefighters helped patch up damaged roofing with blue tarps supplied by parish government.

The parish drainage department had workers through the night at the Marvin Braud Pumping station.

Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez was at the scene and said destruction appeared to be in isolated areas.

He credited the community with coming together to help in the time of crisis.

“The greatest asset Ascension Parish has is the people, the citizens,” he said. “You go to any house and you see people volunteering their time.”

The Louisiana Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross also responded with emergency assistance.

All public schools in Ascension Parish closed Friday due to the weather conditions and power outages, school officials said.

St. John Primary in Prairieville and St. Theresa Middle in Gonzales also closed. Faith Academy in Gonzales remained open for the day.

Parent-teacher conferences scheduled for primary schools in the parish also had to be canceled.

Ascension Parish Superintendent of Schools Donald Songy said road closures were a factor in the decision to close the schools for the day.

Damage to the parish’s public schools was limited to minor leaks from roofs and doors, which was handled by the district’s maintenance and janitorial crews.

A toy dangles from a tree amid the destruction.