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Family of 9 who survived EF-2 tornado gets new home

By Kyle Horan
Published On: Aug 06 2014 07:53:50 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 20 2014 06:12:17 PM CDT
PANTEGO, BEAUFORT COUNTY -

A family who had a close encounter with an EF-2  got a second chance at life Tuesday. A new home was donated to the family by a farmer who wasn't using it anymore.

It was the second time in two months that the Van Essendelfts have had their home moved from its base. The first was on April 7, when a tornado destroyed the home 30 seconds after the family ran from it for the cover of a nearby deep drainage ditch.

The family of 8, including a 9-month pregnant mother, were at their home on Beech Ridge Road in April when they heard there was a tornado warning for the area. Mark Van Essendelft went to check on his barn, when he came back out, he saw the tornado in the trees, moments away. Van Essendelft ran back into his house and told his family to run for the ditch.

All of them ran out the door, Mark's wife, Carla, and their daughter, Hannah, were a few seconds behind the rest of the group. The pair didn't make it to the ditch but lay down flat on the grass for cover. A tree rolled over the pair.

In the aftermath, Carla was taken to the hospital, but was released with minor injuries. Her baby boy, Andrew, was born healthy 5 days later.

Two months later, the family has recovered. A kind donor gave the family a 30' by 56' house.

Mother nature couldn't move the house in tact for 20 miles, but Steiner and Daughters moving company can. The house was moved Tuesday and blocked most of the road along the way.

There were several stops so traffic could pass. Most of the travelers who were bold enough to stop and gawk, knew who the house was for.

Like true saints, the Van Essendelfts still credit God for saving their lives that April night. However, they do recognize they wouldn't be where they are today without the help from their friends and even complete strangers.