Work progresses to rebuild tornado-ravaged LSU AgCenter facilities

dean lee research center
Damage from the April 22, 2020, tornado that did extensive damage to the LSU AgCenter DeWitt Livestock Show Facility near Alexandria. Demolition work has begun and officials are hopeful the construction of a new facility will be complete in a year or two — photo by Tara Smith/LSU AgCenter

One year after a nighttime tornado destroyed several buildings at the LSU AgCenter Dean Lee Research and Extension Center near Alexandria, progress is being made to fully restore facilities.

AgCenter Central Region director Tara Smith said the storm heavily damaged the AgCenter DeWitt Livestock Show Facility and several other buildings on the research station.

Demolition of buildings that cannot be repaired has begun. Smith is optimistic that repair of damaged facilities and new construction of demolished facilities will begin in the coming months.

“We are seeing some progress. As you can imagine, it has been a process, but we are moving forward,” she said. “The tornado cut a devastating swath of damage across the station, beginning at Highway 71 with the Dewitt facility and extending back to many of the buildings on the station as well as destroying over 5 miles of fencing.”

AgCenter offices and houses on the station were not damaged, but there is still no power to the majority of the station, Smith said. “We are working closely with AgCenter Facilities Planning and are optimistic that power will be fully restored by mid-summer.”

Smith said all research and Extension programs are continuing and thriving despite the destruction of critical infrastructure. She hopes that repair and construction projects to replace the damaged buildings will be completed in the next couple of years.

The LSU AgCenter contributed this article.

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