By Heather Osbourne | 315-4440 | @heatheronwfdn | [email protected]

OKALOOSA ISLAND — Robert and Michele Seitz tiptoed across shattered glass Monday morning in their living room and kitchen.

The blue morning sky was visible over the upstairs living area where pieces of beams and shingles, once belonging to the roof, lay scattered across the beige carpet. Michele, a collector of all things giraffes, lifted up broken sheet rock searching for her beloved collectables. Each giraffe pot, vase and statue, like most everything else in the upstairs of the Seitzes’ home, was in pieces.

“My kitchen is completely destroyed,” Michele said. “Today we’re just trying to contact all of the insurance companies and get stuff started. We’re just blessed to be alive. It could have been a lot worse.”

On Sunday evening, the Seitz home was the first on Okaloosa Island to be hit by a EF1 tornado, tearing off the home’s roof and damaging the upstairs living area. The Seitzes, along with their 14-year-old dog Sandy, were upstairs cooking beef tips and rice when they received a tornado warning alert from Okaloosa County.

The Seitzes ran downstairs and didn’t even make it into the bathroom before the storm was over.

“We came back upstairs and by that time we saw the tornado in the middle of the Santa Rosa Sound … and headed to the park over there on (U.S.) Highway 98 and the Civic Center,” Michele said. “It took our boat, the porch railings and the upstairs roof is gone. The fire department said they aren’t sure if we can even salvage part of the upstairs.”

Michele said the electricity immediately turned back on and, although the stove top was destroyed, the burner still worked and her dinner began cooking again. Within five minutes, the fire department and other