'Everything was gone': Elie residents remember tornado on 10 year anniversary
Published Thursday, June 22, 2017 4:45PM CST Last Updated Thursday, June 22, 2017 5:41PM CST
It was 10 years ago Thursday the most powerful tornado recorded in Canadian history tore through the community of Elie west of Winnipeg
Vehicles were tossed around like toys and homes were destroyed.
Remarkably, no one died.
The tornado was so powerful,l it picked up Les and Lynn Kauppila's home and tore it into pieces.
"The fear of it happening again is still there," Lynn said. "It's quite strong when it's windy or stormy."
Rated an F5 on the old Fujita Scale, the twister produced winds of more than 500 kilometres per hour. It remains the most powerful tornado recorded in Canada.
"Think of all of those years we've been monitoring. There has only been one that has reached the granddaddy status of them all and that is the Elie tornado," said Environment and Climate Change Canada Senior Climatologist David Phillips.
A dozen homes were damaged. Of those, four were destroyed.
The Kauppilas rode out the twister under a mattress. When it was over, only the foundation of their home was left.
"Not sure how long it took," Les Kauppila said. "Didn't seem that long but next thing you know, everything was gone."
"It looked like a few bombs had gone off."
Les said the mattress wasn't even covering them by the time the tornado passed. It too had been picked up and blown away.
"I don't remember my husband pulling the mattress over top of us," Lynn said. "He said 'I think the house is gone honey' and I go 'no way.' I looked up and I could see the sky and all the debris."
Jocelyne Godin's home was destroyed by the same tornado.
Her old place only had a crawl space, but the new one has a specially constructed safe room.
"It makes me feel safe because there's no windows," Godin said.
The ceiling isn't attached to the floor above, providing an extra layer of protection. It's where she goes anytime severe weather hits.
While everyone survived the Elie tornado, the Kauppilas said they might not have without a warning call from their daughter to give them a heads up about the storm.
"We won our million dollars," Lynn said. "People want to win a million dollars. I think our luck was surviving an F5 tornado."