CHETEK, Wis. – It is a story of survival that not even the family that lived through it can believe.
The Samuelson family is bruised and battered a day after a tornado destroyed their mobile home outside of Chetek, Wisconsin. But after experiencing a life and death situation, they’re grateful they still have each other.
"I told the girls we can get new stuff. As long as we have each other. We're safe, that's all that matters,” said Lenna Samuelson, 46.
Lenna’s husband, Brent, was at work when the storms hit around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. She was with her youngest daughter, Brenna, her oldest daughter, Ashley, and Ashley's nearly 3-month-old son, Nolan, when they began to hear the howling.
They rushed to the bathroom.
"I paused for a second to shut the door to the bathroom. And I just felt the place just go,” she recalled. “I was tossed forward. Something hit me in the back, something hit me in the head.”
At the same time, Brenna clutched Nolan in the bathtub when the wind knocked him from her arms.
"As soon as everything stopped, that was my first thought. Where is he? Is he okay?” asked Ashley, 22.
For a few moments, they didn't know where he was...until they heard him crying.
"He was right underneath me, I found him,” said 14-year-old Brenna.
“All of sudden she’s just yelling, 'He’s right here, he’s right next to me,'” added Lenna. Those were the best words ever. She saved her nephew’s life.”
Nolan only had some scrapes on his face and leg. The others suffered cuts and bruises.
They still can’t get those images out of their minds as they emerged from their flattened home covered in sheetrock and insulation. They said a neighbor helped pull them from the rubble.
"(We) thank everybody for their well-wishes and prayers,” Lenna said as tears welled up in her eyes.
“We saw this car and it was upside down and underneath a trailer. It’s just so scary that it was that bad, that it could even be possible that that happened,” added Ashley.
And as they surveyed the damage, Brenna noticed their little dog, Coco, down the road from their home. They have no idea how she got there, but she was unscathed.
“We saw her running down the road. She called her and she came running. She scooped her up and she hasn’t left our side yet,” said Lenna.
While they no longer have their home or the stuff inside, they wanted to share their story to give people hope. A family focused not on what they lost, but what they have.
"I didn't care if I was hurt, I just prayed that they made it. They were okay. And they are. We got each other,” she said.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for the Samuelson family.