A young girl has been rescued after a tornado ripped through her New Orleans house, lifting it into the air and dropping it nine metres away onto the middle of a street.
Neighbours said the parents of a girl climbed out of the wreckage when the tornado hit their residential neighbourhood on Tuesday night (local time), screaming frantically for help.
Their daughter, who uses a wheelchair, was on a breathing machine and remained stuck inside the damaged home.
Chuck Heirsch told The Times-Picayune / New Orleans Advocate that he called emergency services as he saw his neighbour on Prosperity Street trying to reach his daughter.
“They were screaming. His wife was hysterical. They were already traumatised from taking that Wizard of Oz ride,” Mr Heirsch said.
“All the men in the neighbourhood ran to the house. The mother, they brought her to me. I just held her,” Nerissa Ledet told the newspaper.
“I tried to console her. I said, ‘You know they’re going to get her out’.”
Firefighters quickly arrived and carried her out in a blanket.
St Bernard Parish president Guy McInnis described the rescue, saying the child was in a hospital and “doing fine”.
At least one person was killed and thousands left homeless after the tornado struck, with winds of up to 265km/h. More than 150 homes were damaged along a three-kilometre path through the Arabi neighbourhood, while trees and electrical poles were knocked over, and cars and school buses were overturned.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she would declare a state of emergency so that New Orleans could take advantage of “any federal resources that we will be eligible for.”
The US National Weather Service said the tornado was strong enough to overturn a train or tear the roof off a house.
Tuesday night’s twister and another in 2017 are the two strongest to hit New Orleans since detailed records have been kept.