Family huddled together in bathtub to survive Barron County tornado

The tornado left one dead and 25 injured
Posted at 6:42 PM, May 17, 2017

A family managed to survive a deadly tornado in Northwestern Wisconsin by huddling together in the bathtub of their trailer home.

The town of Chetek, just 40 miles from Eau Claire, was rocked by a tornado Tuesday that left a 45-year-man dead and 25 others hurt.

The Prairie Lakes Estate Mobile Home Park took a direct hit. Almost all the home were destroyed or badly damaged.

"I thought we were going to die," said Jamie Icard.

Icard and her family have nothing except the clothes they were wearing Wednesday. They did not even have shoes - those were given to them by friends. But they are alive.

Icard had been cooking dinner for her husband, William Buechner, in their home at the Prairie Lakes Estate, not realizing a tornado was coming.

"All of a sudden I saw a shed just being ripped apart and being blown away and I screamed for him and I started running for my daughter," Icard said.

They made it to the bathtub. Icard curled around their daughter, her husband covering them both.

"My daughter was screaming and he was trying to tell us, 'It's going to be OK, it's going to be OK,'" Icard said.

But while their eyes were closed, Buechner watched the tornado pass by, not believing that they would make it.

"It ripped off the wall next to us and I could see it spinning through my backyard," Buechner said.

The couple had just bought the home for their family, excited to be celebrating their wedding anniversary there Tuesday night.

"Everything else can be replaced, everything. It's just, we just restarted. We just moved. So now we have to do it all over again. But at least we can do it together," Buechner said.

The family lost their two dogs in the tornado. They came back to their damaged home the next day and found one alive in the debris. Another was rescued by a deputy and returned to the family.

If you are interested in supporting relief efforts, you can go through the Red Cross website call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10. 

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