The Maroon

New Orleans East resident recounts being inside home when tornado hit

Pictured+left+is+the+home+of+Gason+Nelson%2C+who+was+inside+of+it+as+the+tornado+destroyed+his+neighbor%27s+home.+Gason+was+under+his+bed+as+debris+came+flying+in+through+his+bedroom.+Photo+by+Anthony+Alongi+Feb.+9%2C+2017+Photo+credit%3A+Anthony+Alongi
Pictured left is the home of Gason Nelson, who was inside of it as the tornado destroyed his neighbor's home. Gason was under his bed as debris came flying in through his bedroom. Photo by Anthony Alongi Feb. 9, 2017 Photo credit: Anthony Alongi

Pictured left is the home of Gason Nelson, who was inside of it as the tornado destroyed his neighbor's home. Gason was under his bed as debris came flying in through his bedroom. Photo by Anthony Alongi Feb. 9, 2017 Photo credit: Anthony Alongi

Pictured left is the home of Gason Nelson, who was inside of it as the tornado destroyed his neighbor's home. Gason was under his bed as debris came flying in through his bedroom. Photo by Anthony Alongi Feb. 9, 2017 Photo credit: Anthony Alongi

Anthony Alongi

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Gason Nelson huddled underneath the bed at his Bundy Road home as a tornado wrecked apart his neighborhood. Listening to the tornado destroy his neighbor’s home, Nelson prayed that his didn’t meet the same fate.

Hundreds of homes were severely damaged after a tornado tore a path of destruction through New Orleans East, rendering many uninhabitable and others with no electricity. Surrounding businesses were also heavily damaged by the storm.

“I heard my neighbor’s house just being destroyed and I heard all the debris just hitting upside my house… and I thought I was next. So I’m under the bed and I’m just praying. I’m like, ‘please don’t let this roof blow off and I get sucked up in this thing,’” Nelson said.

Nelson’s car was destroyed, but his house was still standing. He said he feels fortunate to have come out of it the way that he did. The reality for many others in his neighborhood are much more dire. Just a few yards away sits a pile of rubble where his neighbor’s house once stood.

“This is nice, man. I still have my home. I just have some broken windows and my man cave in the back is a little messed up but I’m alright. My neighbor was on the third day of remodeling their house to sell it. Now it’s just gone,” said Nelson.

The tornado registered as high as an EF3 with winds between 158 and 206 mph, making it the first tornado to reach that category in the history of New Orleans.

Nelson, a private chef who has worked for celebrity clients such as Chris Paul, Reggie Bush, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, took the biggest blow when he saw that the shed in his backyard was no longer there.

“I kept all my work supplies in that shed. It was about ten feet high. I have a lot to replace. One of my friends called me and told me he saw it in South Carolina. Trying to make me laugh. I needed that,” Nelson said.

Nelson’s house has no electricity so he has had to go to a local library to use the wi-fi for work related purposes.

Shelters have been set up all over the city for residents that have been affected by the tornado. Others have sought shelter in nearby motels or been taken in by friends and family.

Sheryll Gipps said that her although she is going to stay with family for a while it still isn’t anything like home.

“The situation is terrible for it. I have a wonderful, loving family and I am grateful, grateful, grateful. I want my house though. I want my bed,” Gipps .

Gipps said that she evacuated to Oklahoma during Hurricane Katrina and only came back when her home was repaired. She said being there firsthand to witness the destruction that happens during a natural disaster is hard to comprehend.

“Describing it to you can’t be done. Only another person that saw it can understand. Helpless ain’t the word. Just happy my family is OK.”

Nelson said that several friends put money together to purchase him an eight day stay at a local Airbnb off of Magazine St. Nelson said that times like these are when people truly unite to help one another.

“The differences don’t matter. White, black, whatever. We just want to help each other out. Nothing else is important when something like this happens,” Nelson said.

“This has changed my life. Changed the way that I look at things. I’ll never take anything for granted again. All the little things. Hot water, electricity, internet. I’ll never take those for granted again.”

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New Orleans East resident recounts being inside home when tornado hit