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Twisters Smack Louisiana

Power is back in Houma, Louisiana, Thursday where two tornadoes touched down Wednesday, injuring at least 34 people. Only one person was injured seriously.

Entergy spokesman Cyril Guererra says crews worked through the night, after the twister tore down ten major feeder lines and knocked down numerous other lines.

More than 100 homes and businesses are damaged or destroyed, reports Dave Cohen of CBS Radio affiliate WWL-AM.

George Briggs told the station his mother's home was in the middle of it all, but, miraculously, remains standing. He said his mother held on for dear life.

"It looked like it was Hiroshima," he said. "Everything was demolished. The next door neighbor's roof was knocked off. It blew over her house and landed in the yard."

Sam Mahan was watching TV with his wife and two young children when the roof disappeared.

He said the wind was roaring and he saw debris swirling overhead as the tornado plowed through. Seconds later, it was over, and he and his wife were clutching the children as the rain poured in.

"As long as my wife is all right, and my kids, then I'm all right," Mahan said after the twister devastated his home. "This is bad housekeeping, huh?"

The tornadoes left a mile-long line of damaged homes, downed power lines and debris-strewn streets in two southern Louisiana parishes.

No damage estimate was immediately available. The governor's office gave the area a disaster designation, making it easier for residents to collect state and federal funds to rebuild.

"There was no warning. It slammed us," said Michael Deroche, director of the Terrebonne Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness.

Only one of the injuries was considered serious: A man was struck in the head by debris after a 120-by-40-foot metal building at B.J. Services was flattened. Supervisor Todd Mistich remembers one man hanging on in the fierce wind.

"He was hanging onto a piling - a beam inside the building. The wind was so hard that he was horizontal in the air," Mistich said.

"It leveled the shop, we've got tin hanging from power lines, turned over automobiles," he said. "It tore down a whole building. What can you say? It's bad."

©2000 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report

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