Published 8:57 am Wednesday, December 12, 2012
On Monday morning, the National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather alert for Washington Parish. At 8:48 a.m., a “severe thunderstorm capable of producing damaging winds in excess of 60 miles per hour” was reportedly located seven miles west of Varnado and nine miles northwest of Bogalusa and moving east at 50 miles per hour.
Less than an hour later, Bogalusa took a hit.
The National Weather Service later determined the damage was caused by straight-line winds at an estimated 65 miles per hour.
About 9:30 a.m. Eddie Dyson was walking through the parking lot in front of the old Charity Hospital.
“When I got halfway across the parking lot the rain got real hard,” he said. “I’ve never been in wind that strong. It was strong, strong, almost a tornado.
“The transformer blew. A second or two later, shingles blew up on Yoyo’s roof from south to north and piled them up. Then it looked like it turned to the east toward the Mississippi line. I knocked on Yoyo’s back door, and their electricity was gone. I told them about the transformer and the roof.”
Nearby, on Louisiana Avenue, windows were reportedly blown or burst out of two vehicles parked outside Judge Robert Black’s office. People watched leaves and debris swirl high into the air.
At the same time, Kim and Brian Lively, Nellie Crain and the store dog, Scooter, were inside McMillan’s Nursery with a couple of customers when the wind pulled up a carport-like structure that was anchored just outside the door and blew it across the top of the building.
The women reportedly reacted with robust and vocal enthusiasm while Brian calmly continued savoring his drink and cookies. The dog was passed to him for his calming effect.
“It sounded like a tornado,” Kim Lively said a bit later as they sat in the darkness caused when the airborne structure pulled out a power line.
“It was high, high winds,” said Crain. “We thought it was a tornado.”
Outside, Christmas trees and other greenery lay blown over on the ground.
Minutes after Dyson made his observation about the storm’s direction its fury was felt at Ponemeh Cemetery.
The wind ripped some of the metal off the roof of the mausoleum and blew it across the lawn, where it mingled with flags, flowers, small statuary and stuffed animals that had been blown from their intended positions. The northeast section was quickly carpeted with the debris. A few sturdy benches were also rearranged by the wind.
Because plot owners are responsible for the upkeep of their properties, anyone who has or cares for a plot is encouraged to check it out and to remove any hazards to the public, such as shattered ceramics, that might have been caused by the storm. They are also asked to remove any of their items that might have been blown onto the public roadway through the cemetery.
Late in the day, the Washington Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness said that no injuries had been reported.