‘I realize how lucky we were’: Tornado destroys boat house

Published: June 29, 2020

Sturgeon Point Tornado Aftermath Photo Credit: Twitter @Madison_Kozak

Ramona Kozak was working in the garage next to her home on Sturgeon Point when she received a text from her husband. A downpour had started in nearby Lindsay, Ont. and he asked her to close the windows.

With the wind picking up and rain starting to hit Sturgeon Lake, Kozak’s assistant, who was working in the garage with her, offered to put away the pillows on the chairs outside the boathouse before they got soaked. The assistant grabbed an umbrella and ran down to the lakefront.

Minutes after she got back, a tornado hit the property.

“I have French doors and the wind came and it slammed them,” Kozak says. “I had two rocking chairs and tables right outside my door and [the wind] picked them up and threw them against the garage.”

Kozak grabbed her phone to text her daughter Madison Kozak, who was inside the main house at the time, to tell her to shut the windows, but before she could dial, the phone started ringing—Madison was calling her.

Tornado Aftermath
Photo by Ramona Kozak

“She was calling me in a panic saying, ‘mom, there’s been a tornado. Our boathouse is on our front lawn.'”

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The boathouse was totaled. The cement blocks that made up the foundation had been tossed 100 feet up the bank; the cable that locked the family’s sea-doo into place had unraveled completely and the craft had landed upside down on a cement pier. Siding and lifejackets were thrown 200 feet from the water; trees were uprooted from the ground, and an active hydro line lay across the front lawn.

After the rain stopped, Kozak rushed outside to assess the damage and make sure everyone was safe. “I knew we were fine, but I was thinking of other people’s safety,” she says. There were no injuries and the Kozak house remained intact. However, the hydro line lay across the road next to their home and cars were coming. Kozak stood by the roadside, waving them away while she texted her husband and called her son, an electrician who works in Lindsay. “You have to come home right away,” she told him.

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Within 10 minutes, a patrol car showed up. A bystander who watched the tornado tear apart the boathouse from across the lake at Pleasant Point had called 911, concerned that people were hurt. The officers quickly secured the area, ensuring no one passed through.

Once Kozak had wrapped her head around what had happened, she called the insurance company and by 7 p.m. they had someone at the property assessing the damage. First thing the next morning, the company sent a construction crew of 10 workers to clear the debris.

“The next day, I had my little cry,” Kozak says. “I started to realize how lucky we really were.”

The tornado came as a complete surprise to everyone. No warnings had been issued as the storm was not classified as a supercell—a thunderstorm characterized by deep, rotating updrafts. Environment Canada did confirm the tornado on their weather summaries page, writing: “Videos and pictures via social media received by the Ontario Storm Prediction Centre confirm a tornado occurred today at Sturgeon Lake around 3:00 p.m. EDT, and tracked north through Sturgeon Point and likely north beyond this.”

Tornado Aftermath
Photo by Ramona Kozak

Marylee Boston, the manager of nearby Fenelon Fall’s District Chamber of Commerce, says she was in town around 3 p.m., and despite being only a 10-minute drive away, had no idea a tornado had touched down. “I was in line at the grocery store, and the people in front of me were like, ‘Oh my goodness, did you hear about the tornado at Sturgeon Point?’”

Despite its ferocity, the tornado appeared to only touchdown on the Kozak’s property as no other damage has been reported.

“We’re all here,” Kozak says. “We’re all here to talk about it and that’s the important thing.”

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