The strongest tornado in New Orleans history destroyed 50-60% of Arabi, Louisiana in March. Families and business owners were shocked by the incredible and sudden loss caused by the tornado. But even after seven months and the town still showing scars, the community is back in business and closer than ever.
In March, FOX Weather’s Mitti Hicks spoke to barber Nathan Chase as he was forced to cut his hair on the sidewalk outside his collapsed store.
Seven months later, the piles of debris were gone, the roof and storefront rebuilt, and neighbors were waiting inside to get their haircuts.
Chase credits these neighbors for his determination to rebuild.
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“I learned when, you know, people pull together in this community,” Chase said. “Everyone helps each other, you know, it’s a beautiful community.”
Survivors helped each other immediately after the storm and still do so today.
“When the power went out my daughter came running into our room. She curled up under my wife, my wife lay on top of her and I lay on both of them,” Timothy O’ recalls Neill, a resident of Arabi. “The plasterboard from the walls and ceiling fell on us. But we were able to get up afterwards, go out and check on the neighbors.”
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The New Orleans suburb, just 5 miles from downtown, is no stranger to destruction.
Hurricane Katrina devastated the region in 2005.
“The tornado is much worse than the hurricane. You don’t get the (advanced) warning,” Chase said. “And, you know, you don’t know where in this country you can prepare.”
One person died and countless others were injured when the EF-3 multi-vortex tornado with winds of 165 mph ripped through at 7:30 p.m. on a Tuesday evening.
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Satellite images show the tornado’s 11-mile-long, 320-meter-wide path.
Compare the November 2021 scene to the post-storm. What were houses a few months ago became lumber, bricks and scattered family belongings.
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The kids are back in rebuilt schools, the barber shop is back indoors, and the neighbors are once again defying Mother Nature’s worst. But the community is still healing as scenes like this of the March Tornado howling in the dark, seventeen minutes of terror continue to haunt survivors like Chase.