Rayne Mayor Jimbo Petitjean said a 21-year-old woman died when a tree fell on her home, KATC-TV reported. The mayor said the woman, whose name was not released, was protecting her young daughter when she was fatally injured.
The Lafayette TV station said at least a dozen other people were injured and about 1,500 people in Rayne were evacuated.
A dozen businesses were also destroyed, and officials ordered evacuations due to a gas leak, The (Lafayette) Daily Advertiser reported.
"This damage is pretty significant," Rayne Fire Department Chief Barry Granger said. "As long as I can remember this is probably the worst tornado to hit the city."
The first report of a tornado came in at about 10:20 a.m. Center Point Energy was trying to close a gas leak coming from the damaged homes and businesses, the newspaper said.
Petitjean said a mandatory 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew was being actively enforced in the city's northwest neighborhoods, the newspaper said.