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Arkansas Family Survives Tornado Thanks To Dad’s “Gut” Feeling

Family Home Hit By Second Tornado In Three Years
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Chris Spears By Chris Spears
CBS4 Meteorologist
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DENVER (CBS4) – As a native of central Arkansas, I’ve been in my fair share of tornado producing thunderstorms.

While it’s something we don’t see too often in Colorado, they can, and do happen. In fact, a killer tornado struck Holly in 2007 and another hit Windsor in 2008.

But there’s just something different about these monster storms that hit the southern plains states and the mid-south.

It’s hard to explain, but sometimes, you can almost feel the energy in the atmosphere.

TIME TO ACT

When Matt Raeburn got a call from his dad on Sunday that a tornado was on the ground and headed for his home in Vilonia, Ark., his family sprang into action, seeking shelter in an interior bathroom.

Part of their plan included having spare mattresses available for protection from flying debris.

As the young family sat and listened to radio reports of the approaching twister, something told Raeburn that their safety plan wasn’t enough.

DO TORNADOES STRIKE THE SAME PLACE TWICE?

Believe it or not, they can, and do.

As the storm approached his home, Raeburn was not only acting off instinct, but experience.

This new tornado was on an eerily similar path to one that hit his home three years prior.

GO WITH YOUR GUT

After listening to radio reports of the tornado barreling toward his family, Raeburn’s “gut” said his home wasn’t safe.

So he rushed his two boys to the truck and drove to a nearby community safe room.

He said about 300 people were huddled inside. Kids were sitting on the floor playing, adults were checking their phones. The mood inside was oddly calm, and the occupants had no idea what was going on outside.

When the all clear was given, Raeburn and his boys got back in the truck and headed home. They couldn’t get down their road due to debris and downed power lines, but were able to park and walk to their property.

QUICK ACTION SAVED LIVES

It turns out, the quick decision to leave was the right one to make. The Raeburn’s home was gone, swept down to the foundation.

The once crystal blue swimming pool was now a murky, muddy mess. Their family tractor was destroyed, part of it almost a mile down the road.

Raeburn tells me it really hasn’t sunk in that for the second time in three years, his family is homeless.

But despite the loss, he searches for the silver lining, talking about the amazing sense of community that comes out of disaster.

A home in Vilonia, Ark., is leveled after a killer tornado hit on April 27, 2014. (credit: Neil Greathouse, Sheep Dog Impact Assistance)

A home in Vilonia, Ark., is leveled after a killer tornado hit on April 27, 2014. (credit: Neil Greathouse, Sheep Dog Impact Assistance)

Part of a tractor thrown nearly a mile down the road. (credit: Matt Raeburn)

Part of a tractor thrown nearly a mile down the road. (credit: Matt Raeburn)

A once crystal blue swimming pool turned to a muddy mess after a deadly tornado passed through. (credit: Matt Raeburn)

A once crystal blue swimming pool turned to a muddy mess after a deadly tornado passed through. (credit: Matt Raeburn)

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