Caught on camera: Tornado takes out part of Louisiana bar moments after patrons run for cover

A bar owner in Louisiana only had moments to pull his two patrons to safety before an EF-2 tornado blew the front wall in during Wednesday's severe weather outbreak along the Gulf Coast.

It was stormy at 6:30 a.m. at the Library Riot bar in Lake Charles. Two nurses had just finished their shifts at a nearby hospital and were sitting in the front of the building when strong wind blew the front door open.

"It was very, very intense. At first, the door blew open pretty violently. So I ran to, to close it," bar owner Jamie Meiburg told FOX Weather. "I've been through a few Category 2 (hurricanes), and the wind was very, very similar in strength. So by the time I closed the door and bolted it, the windows and the bricks shook violently."


Image 1 of 6

The front of the bar blew in. (Jamie Meiburg)

He ran to pull the nurses to safety just in time as the tornado, with 115 mph winds, took out the wall of his bar.

"Luckily, I had a few moments to get the customers into a safe area," he continued. "We were about 30 feet away or 40 feet away when it blew out. It was intense. It came through really strong."

Surveillance video shows the surreal scene of 20 seconds of terror. You can hear the freight train noise that so many tornado survivors talk about. Then the walls and windows start shaking when the image gets blurry.

Glass starts shattering and part of the ceiling and wall start to fall. Then, as if something hit the building, the vending machines go down and parts of wall, ceiling and insulation fall on top of them. Fabric on the windows wave violently with the glass gone. Then, it is suddenly silent, and the tornado is gone.


Second storm in five years to destroy bar

All this was déjà vu for Meiburg. He lost his first bar in 2020 to Hurricane Laura, which tore through Louisiana as a Category 4 monster with 150 mph sustained winds. The bar had only been open for three weeks before it was destroyed during the hurricane.

Meiburg said handling the damage this time is more "manageable" than the Laura damage. He calls himself fortunate despite the same tornado damaging his home too.

"I was very fortunate with this one for my home," he said. "It kind of only clipped us. So, it was more outside exterior damage. I found a random roof in my backyard. But, other than that, I'm hoping it'll still be livable. The adjusters will let us know this week."

Damage to his home. (Jamie Meiburg / FOX Weather)

Hurricane Laura also tore the roof off his home and knocked it off the foundation in some areas.

Despite the most recent damage, the entrepreneur is hopeful that he will be back open in about a week.

"We have a standard wall going in (for the bar), just to keep things together," he said. "We're hoping to be open, fingers crossed, by next week. Could be a little bit longer. But then the full remodel will take about 45 to 60 days."

The bar's two-year anniversary is April 27. He's planning a belated party when the remodel is complete.

Read more from FOX Weather