and Video Courtesy of Channel 10, WTSP
By Beau Zimmer
January 21, 2016
SIESTA KEY, Florida— We now know it was a strong EF-2
tornado that tore a strip through Sarasota County, starting in Siesta
Key and hop scotching across neighborhoods across the county.
A pair of condominium buildings on
both sides of Midnight Pass Road. Dan and Jan Cook had
just checked into the Excelsior Beach to Bay
Condominiums on Saturday for a week-long vacation.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” said Dan
Cook. He and his wife rented out the 5th floor penthouse
but were jolted out of bed early Sunday morning on their
first night in Florida.
“As soon as we started realizing what was going on the windows started
crashing in,” said Dan.
His wife took us into the now windowless bedroom where they were
“He grabbed me and threw me into the bathroom, then it just went crash,”
The bed is still filled with shards of glass and
other debris and both escaped with only minor cuts. Jan’s
brother was sleeping with his wife on the other side of the
condo when he got up to turn on the TV and heard the
warnings to take cover.
“The weather map was up and Siesta Key was like in the small
circle,” said Jan’s brother Bob Wilson. “They’re saying
‘run, run run’ and I dropped the remote and I got to about
there,” pointing to the bedroom hallway, “and everything
Neighboring condos also suffered major damage. The
Aluminum roofing peeled off buildings and the tornados power was enough
to topple cement walls, rip off guard rails, and blow out most car
“Our car down [in the parking lot] I think is totaled,” said Jan who
plans on returning home to the Chicago area as soon as possible. “We’re
going to have to rent a car to get home.”
Tonight we’ve learned the Excelsior Beach to Bay Condos on the Gulf side
of Midnight Pass Road has been declared unsafe to occupy. The Red Cross
is meeting with residents to make sure everyone has a place to stay and
providing hotel vouchers to those who do not.