Storms moved through Red River Parish on Sunday May 28th. There was widespread damage, including one person killed when a tree fell through her home.
From The Journal’s Special Report of May 29th: The victim was identified by family members as Clara Suggs. She was asleep on the couch in the living room of her mobile home on Esparanza Road when a large tree fell across it. Suggs’ mother Ellen Wood was in a bedroom of the home. She is reported to have suffered only a few scratches, according to family members. Suggs died at the scene. Her dog Pee Wee also perished in the house.
Sunrise found power out throughout Red River Parish. There was widespread damage including buildings blown over, signs down, many trees uprooted, and power lines down. Utilities have dispatched crews however damage is reported widespread throughout the northwest part of the state. Few businesses are open on generator power. Therefore gasoline is difficult to find. Stations in Coushatta and Armistead are closed.
In mid August a storm, thought by local residents to be a tornado, blew through the Westdale community on Highway One. From the Journal’s August 16th edition is this account:
Julia Pennington and her brother John Dixon are thankful for their lives following a weekend storm that hit at Westdale. They live on Bundrick Road, just off Highway 1 in north Red River Parish.
John Dixon told the Journal, “It was going too fast. A shower came up. I didn’t see other clouds. I was watching TV in the living room when the porch blew off first.” Dixon went on to explain, “Then the roof came off. Everything in the house was ruined by the water after the roof blew off.” Dixon’s roof landed in the yard next to the house. His porch blew from the east side of his house, over the house and over his sister’s house next door and landed to the west of her house.
Julia Pennington told the Journal. “The way a tree was damaged by the house, it was nothing but a tornado.” Pennington said there was steady lightning, some hail, and it was raining heavily. She added, “There was no warning. All at once we (Pennington and her daughter) heard a whoof! My daughter and I got in a closet and hit the floor. We were trying to pull a mattress over us but by then it was gone” Pennington’s mobile home suffered roof damage and the wind shifted it off the support blocks in the front.
The Red River Parish Fire Department’s substation at Westdale was damaged by the storm. And there was some damage to the farm located across Highway 1 at Bundrick Road.
Deputy Red River Fire Chief Mike Robinson said the doors were blown inward, then out and off. He said the north wall of the fire station was blown out by the storm this past weekend. Robinson told the Journal that the station is not operational and will be out of service until repairs are made. He also said that no dollar damage estimate is available yet.
Across Highway 1 from the Westdale fire station trees were downed and three large grain bins were upended by the storm. There was minor damage to the main farm office. A farmer, who asked not to be identified, said the wind gage on the property recorded winds of 102 miles an hour.
The Journal contacted Meteorologist Travis Washington at the National Weather Service office in Shreveport. Washington said their records of the storm are that it was a severe thunderstorm with high winds in the 45 to 60 miles per hour range. He said NWS had no report of winds reaching 100 plus.
Hurricane Harvey blew through Red River Parish in late August. Wind and rain was what Hurricane or Tropical Storm Harvey brought. The storm also brought higher gas prices blamed on the shutdown of a refinery in the Houston area where damage and flooding was much more extensive.
The local National Guard unit, C-Troop of the 108th Cav was called to active duty. Commander Captain Chad Ford told the Journal in our August 29th issue that they were on standby in the event they were needed for flood relief in south Louisiana.
The troops readied their equipment, including high wheeled vehicles that can go through flood water. They also practiced operating their inflatable boats on an area lake in the event they were needed. As it turned out the local guard unit was not needed this time and members were allowed to return home.