The mayor of a town in western Louisiana urged prayers after a 21-year old mother was killed by a falling tree while trying to protect her daughter during a tornado on Saturday morning.
It's unfortunate and that's where we really need your prayers, Mayor Jim Petijean of Rayne, Louisiana said during a press conference announcing response efforts and challenges awaiting the city in the next few days.
The daughter was uninjured, he said.
The mother was not immediately identified. There were 11 other people injured when the tornado touched down in the northwest part of the city at around 10 a.m. Rayne is located about 60 miles west of Baton Rouge.
He was asked by a reporter what the main goal for everyone tonight would be.
The main goal of everyone is to -- hopefully the ones who are safe are with family members and, you know -- Pray. That's a big thing. Prayer. Prayer is huge at this point.
Over 1,500 people were evacuated amid concerns about ruptured gas lines. Search and rescue teams had visited every house in the area.
We don't want anyone in that area, Petijean said, noting that law enforcement officials would be patrolling and closing it off. There would also be a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in place.
Petijean said government agencies nearby had been assisting to ensure the fastest response.
At least 25 to 30 electric power poles were struck down and crews were working to restore power to area businesses as soon as possible, he said. A field had also been designated to collect debris. Evacuees were being told to head to the city's largest fire station.
Damage to a local high school and a public housing project was heavy, he said.