Family describes surviving Siesta Key tornado

Everyone is thankful that no one was killed

Sarasota, FL (WFLA) – At around 3 am Sunday morning, Julian Wilusc was rudely awakened. He was staying with his family on a 4th floor condo at the Excelsior Beach to Bay Condominiums. Wilusc was sleeping on a pull-out bed in the living room. At moment he didn’t realize that a tornado was tearing his building apart, but he’d quickly find out.

Suddenly, the roof tore open, and water poured down as Wilusc frantically tried to grab his brother. Wilusc recalled, “As I was running through that corridor, that wall gave out [and collapsed] on me.”

He rushed down a hallway and took a right, flinging open a door to find his parents. Wilusc said through tears, “I opened my parents’ door, and I watch the ceiling fall on them. It was terrifying.”

Wilusc’s brother soon joined him and his father grabbed their disoriented grandmother. They then took cover inside a bathroom. The family stayed hovered together inside the bathroom for an hour and a half while the violent storm destroyed their condo.

Julian’s mother, Mary Wilusc-Czekaj said, “There’s like an instinctive thing where you gather, protect, and it worked. Nobody panicked. Everybody helped each other.”

The family stayed inside the bathroom and called 911, hoping someone would come to help. Eventually, firemen came banging on the door, looking for them.

When the family emerged, their condo was war zone. Ceiling tiles and insulation lay everywhere. The floor was completely soaked, drenched with water from the rain and broken water pipes.

Belongings damaged, appliances irreparable.

To help the family avoid exposed nails, the firemen gave the family some shoes to wear. They then went downstairs and met up with fellow condo residents to see if they were ok.

Julian said, “I have a bit of a mark on the top of my head, but you know? I’m alive.”

And in the end that’s all that really matters.

The family will meet with insurance adjusters on Monday to see what it will take to restore their condo.

Sarasota County is offering resources to storm victims on Monday.

County building officials, utilities staff, Sarasota County Sheriff’s deputies, the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army will be on hand for help.

This will be held from 11 am to 2pm at Edson Keith Mansion at Phillipi Estate Park at 5500 S Tamiami Trail.

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