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Survivor stories: Pregnant mom recounts protecting her 3 kids during Defiance tornado

"I heard the tornado, which is when we huddled together in the corner. We got down in a tight circle moments before impact."

DEFIANCE, Mo. — As Allison Laupp looks at her damaged home in Defiance, an array of memories swarm her mind. 

She and her husband Nathan broke ground 16 years ago in their early 20s. 

"The day we were married, they began pouring our foundation. We practiced our first dance in the excavated dirt in what is now the basement that saved our family’s life," she said.

Laupp told 5 On Your Side about the backstory of her home built by her father.

"My dad was the general contractor on our house. I still remember the fire code being different than the other houses he built. In 2006, as our house was in later stages in being built, he found out they required “hurricane straps” on trusses. I still remember him talking about those damn hurricane trusses having to be added. I remember thinking how we are nestled into a hill, on a terraced landscape, and how I had heard that tornadoes follow the path of least resistance, so we probably wouldn’t need them, but, of course, they were added," she said.

Credit: Allison and Nathan Laupp

With a solid foundation, their life began. Every memory of starting their family is in their home. They have three little ones ages 10, 8, and 2 with a baby girl on the way. 

"Our backyard is our spot to go and play and explore. So many memories of climbing these old oak and walnut trees, pushing the kids on the swings that hung from their thick sturdy branches," Allison recalled. 

Those sturdy branches are now scattered across the fields.

Credit: Allison Laupp

On Friday, Allison and her family were home when an EF-3 tornado hit. 

She grabbed her family to head to the basement when the warnings went off.

"I heard the tornado, which is when we huddled together in the corner. We got down in a tight circle moments before impact. It was absolutely terrifying. But holding those babies and knowing nothing was coming through the floor was all that mattered in that moment. And honestly, I just keep reminding myself of that," Laupp said. "I truly feel so thankful that we were able to hold three healthy children (with one on the way) tightly in our arms, whispering that it was going to be ok. To take deep breaths. And as our ceiling and trusses collapsed and ripped apart, and everything fell to the floor above us, this 16-year-old house filled with memories protected the only thing that really matters."

We're told if they didn't go to the basement, it could've been worse. 

Nathan says, "We would’ve been severely hurt or killed if we didn’t go to the basement."

As the family waited in the basement, they learned the main roads were blocked off by trees, as first responders tried to come and help them.

That's when Nathan cleared the debris and paved the way for his family to climb out.

Checking out the damage, Allison said, those hurricane straps her dad placed, prevented more destruction from happening.

Not far from the Laupps is Kathleen Flynn and her family.

They had been working for years to finish their house. However, in seconds during Friday's storm, they lost their home. 

She told 5 On Your Side they almost didn't go to the basement. 

"It's a 120-year-old home with a cellar basement that you have to go outside to get to and we typically don't go in," she said.

But their gut told them to go and within five minutes of getting down there, the home was hit.

Credit: KSDK
Kathleen Flynn's home

"It felt like the movie 'Twister.' Cellar door flying open, we watched the 4-wheeler fly by. We huddled in the corner and tried to calm down our 8-year-old. A bunch of big tree limbs fell onto the cellar door, so my husband had to move them out of the way and then pull my daughter, myself and our dog out," she shared.

The community has stepped up to help the families and the rest of the tornado survivors, which is something both families feel extremely grateful for.

Nathan Laupp is a veteran, having served two deployments in Iraq, and said he's not used to being on the receiving end. Taking it all in, they are beyond thankful.

"We’ve had so many emotions, but the prevailing emotion is gratitude," Allison and Nathan said.

GoFundMe links

To help the Laupp family, visit their GoFundMe here.

To help the Flynn family, click here for their GoFundMe.

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