This Sunday will mark 10 years since a powerful F3 tornado tore right through the heart of Ladysmith. The damage was extensive costing 20 million dollars. However, the most impressive number from that day was zero...zero deaths.
"It looked like a war torn city. It was just really rubble. Some buildings were just down to rubble."
"They’re very powerful. I don’t know about the ratings for the F3’s but all I remember is the damage that we sustained that day and the attitude of the people in those first initial hours of seeing how much damage had been done here," explains Norm Rozak. He was the police chief of Ladysmith. He retired in 2004 after serving the community for 19 years. The scope of the damage bothered Rozak. However, there was no time to dwell on the destruction. He had to help organize a massive relief effort for his city.
"There was a mother with her two little children that hid behind the Baptist church which was totally demolished, and she was in the back seat with her children and you know minor scrapes and bruises but no real bad injuries," said Ladysmith resident Sue Moore. She was unable to get into downtown right away due to gas leaks. When she arrived to her rental house, she was relieved that no one was there but the building sustained significant damage along with most of Lake Street. She rebuilt the building that dates back to 1905 and turned it into an ice cream parlor and gift shop.
"They waited until we got it all cleaned up and they went to work. And when they went to work you would not believe what this community looked like with all of the volunteers and all of the people that came in here," said Rozak.
The mural we told you about earlier this summer that was being made for the town of Ladysmith is now complete. It now stands as a new landmark for Ladysmith and also is a symbol of how far the community has come 10 years since the tornado.
"You know in a bad situation that occurred we were so grateful that nobody was killed, and it actually has made such an improvement in the town. Many of the buildings are either brand new or totally remodeled in town. So it's really given a whole new look to Ladysmith," says Moore.
People in town partially attribute the Labor Day weekend as a reason why few people were in downtown, and they say that likely saved lives.