March 23 (UPI) -- One person died late Tuesday after a powerful tornado hit New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward and city suburbs, leaving a trail of destruction not seen in the area since Hurricane Katrina.
The Lower 9th Ward, which was one of the area most affected by Hurricane Katrina, saw homes heavily damaged with power knocked out for thousands of residents. In neighboring Arabi, roofs were ripped off homes and some people became trapped in their homes because of debris, St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann told NOLA.com.
"We have widespread damage from south Arabi to north Arabia," St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis, said, according to WWL-TV. "We're going through homes, search and rescue and clearing homes. We have some homes in south Arabi that we're trying to get to, we're getting calls from people saying they're trapped."
One person died in Arabi from the tornado but officials have not released details about the death or any other information on the individual.
The National Weather Service said teams will go out to the areas to assess damage along with an area near Gretna and the north shore near Lacombe.
"The New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has activated the Emergency Operations Center in response to the tornado," New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said, according to WDSU-TV.
"Residents should avoid all travel that is inessential, to provide an opportunity for the professionals to handle this situation."
The same storm system caused tornadoes across Texas and Oklahoma the day before as it continued to move toward the Southeast.