Team Rubicon Spins Up Holiday Week Response to Tornadoes Near New Orleans

Julie H. Case

Veteran-led nonprofit deploys more than two dozen volunteers to tarp roofs and remove debris in hard-hit Jefferson Parish.

Once rare, December tornadoes have hit the central and southern U.S. for the second year in a row, again leaving a swath of destruction in their wake. 

On December 10 and 11, 2021, an estimated 50 tornadoes were reported across eight Midwest states, killing at least 88 people—at least 74 of them in Kentucky—and leaving tens of thousands without power. Just one year later, from December 12 to 15, numerous tornadoes touched down again, this time hitting Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia. 

Among the December 2022 tornadoes was an EF2 that hit the New Orleans metro area, following a path similar to an EF3 that hit just nine months prior in March. 

In Jefferson Parish, at least three tornadoes, including an EF2, touched down this week, damaging at least 400 homes according to the Jefferson Parish emergency management office, including many in Gretna, which sits on the west bank of the Mississippi, across the river from uptown New Orleans.    

“There is widespread damage across the Parish, but it is sticking to a couple of blocks. It’s almost as if a knife was sliced right through the Parish,” said Zach Luebstorf, a Greyshirt and member of the recon team. In those scalpelled areas, the damage is significant. “It’s siding ripped off, telephone poles down, missing sections of roofs, a few collapsed structures, and debris everywhere.”

Just days after the tornadoes, Team Rubicon spun up a response. Beginning on Saturday, December 17 and running until Christmas Day, some 25 to 30 Greyshirts will spend the week tarping roofs and removing tornado debris across the Parish.

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