Cleanup is underway in Lake Charles after a tornado hit near McNeese State University early this morning.
The National Weather Service confirms an EF-1 touched down.
All day neighbors along West McNeese Street have been cleaning up debris. The damage is sporadic but significant.
Van Schmutz was surprised to hear a tornado hit near his home. He says the storm woke him up, but he didn’t think much of it.
“I didn’t think it was that bad really,” said Schmutz. “I went back to sleep. I was kind of shocked when I walked outside.”
Throughout Schmutz’s neighborhood were mangled awnings, down power lines and trees. Several roofs pierced by metal pipes and shingles are ripped off.
“For some reason, off in the distance, it looked like cloud-to-cloud lightning, not cloud-to-ground lightning, and it was continuous for at least ten minutes,” Schmutz said.
For the majority of the day, residents were cleaning up. Thursday, they were without power for nearly twelve hours.
Down the road at C&C Audio, Video and Appliances, there was more evidence of a violent storm.
“Just drive up and you see part of the building laying down and you wonder if there was other damage when you first saw it,” said Jimmy Chance, C&C Operations Manager.
Chance said the wind was driving hard. The National Weather Service confirmed Lake Charles was hit by an EF-1 tornado with winds ranging from 86 – 110 miles per hour.
“We’ve been in this building for quite a while, and we’ve been through [Hurricane] Rita, and we’ve been through a lot of other storms. To see this happen, it’s just a little surprising,” Chance said.
The cleanup process is only getting started. Many neighbors say they’re now waiting on the insurance companies to come out so claims can be filed.