NEW ORLEANS, La. - Severe damage is reported in New Orleans East after a tornado ripped through the area Tuesday morning.
"We had a very serious tornado touch down in the New Orleans area," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at a press conference from the scene. "We think it touched down at Chef and Wilson and really crisscrossed Chef Highway as far north as Dwyer Road. There is substantial damage, a lot of property damage across the entire way."
NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility sustained some damage. This is where crews are assembling large parts of NASA's Space Launch System. It is managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.
At this time we have learned through a NASA spokeswoman that 5 people sustained minor injuries at Michoud.
NASA posted the following statement on NASA.gov:
"At 11:25 a.m. CST, a tornado impacted NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. At this time, only minor injuries have been reported and NASA employees and other tenants are being accounted for. There is still a threat of severe weather in the area and emergency officials are continuing to monitor the situation to ensure the safety of onsite personnel. The onsite Michoud emergency response team is also conducting damage assessments of buildings and facilities."
WHNT News 19 has confirmed there are people from Marshall Space Flight Center at Michoud for work. We have been told that there is no known impact on the SLS and Orion hardware, but damage teams continue to look into this.
Recovery efforts are underway at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility. All 3,500 employees at the facility have been accounted for, with five sustaining minor injuries.
“Our hearts go out to our employees and the people in New Orleans who have suffered from this serious storm,” said Keith Hefner, director of the facility. “The safety of our team is always our main concern, and we are pleased to report that we’ve identified only minor injuries.”
The facility is currently closed and will remain closed Wednesday, Feb. 8, with only emergency personnel on site to continue damage assessments. All NASA employees and tenants who are not involved in emergency operations have been evacuated. Local law enforcement helped ensure employees arrived home safely. All utilities and services to the facility are being secured and efforts are underway to restore power.
At this time, emergency personnel have identified damage to building numbers 103, 350 and additional structures. Building 103, Michoud’s main manufacturing building, has roof damage in several areas. Approximately 200 parked cars were damaged, and there was damage to roads and other areas near Michoud.
“Michoud has a comprehensive emergency plan that we activated today to ensure the safety of our people and to secure our facilities,” said Hefner. “I am proud of our dedicated team onsite who are successfully implementing that plan.”
Hardware for NASA’s heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System, and the Orion spacecraft is secure, and no damage from the storm has been identfied to hardware or the barge Pegasus docked at Michoud.
Boeing employees also often travel to New Orleans, and we are working on connecting with Boeing representatives to find out the impact on them, if there is one.
A NASA Marshall spokeswoman says travel there is on hold for now.
New Orleans East Hospital has confirmed five patients with storm related injuries. Four adults and one child have been admitted.
Two of the adults have minor injures, one adult has a head injury. The other adult and child are in unknown condition, according to the hospital.
Landrieu said dozens of people are injured, but most of the injuries are minor.
About 10,000 customers are without power in the metro New Orleans area.