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LA town cleans up

Residents in a small Louisiana town mourned the loss of one resident over Thanksgiving weekend, even while they tried to clean up from a tornado that struck their community Nov. 23.

BY SUSAN KIM | OLLA, La. | November 29, 2004

Residents in a small Louisiana town mourned the loss of one resident over Thanksgiving weekend, even while they tried to clean up from a tornado that struck their community on Nov. 23.

Rain over the weekend - and more on Monday - was hampering the cleanup.

Thirty-five houses were destroyed and another 80-100 were damaged, according to local officials. The town is home to about 2,000 people.

Residents of the town, located in the northern section of LaSalle Parish, were joined by church volunteers, the National Guard, and town officials as they cleaned up storm debris.

At least 12 people were injured, three of them seriously.

The tornado, which struck at 9 p.m., leveled LaSalle High School. Town officials indicated the high school will convene in an empty garment factory.

Many residents ate Thanksgiving dinner at a Salvation Army and American Red Cross shelter set up at a cultural center in downtown Olla.

Olla has not had a tornado hit since 1983, according to police reports.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco has declared LaSalle and four other parishes - Vernon, Catahoula, St. Tammany and Caldwell - disaster areas. The parishes were all hit Nov. 23 by heavy storms and tornadoes.

Over the weekend, on Saturday, a tornado touched down in the Terrebonne Parish town of Gibson and pummeled mobile homes, destroying at least one.


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