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Early Thanksgiving destroyed by storm; still plenty to be thankful for

GIFFORD -- The Schluter family was just sitting down for an early Thanksgiving meal when a tornado ripped through their home.
GIFFORD -- The Schluter family was just sitting down for an early Thanksgiving meal when a tornado ripped through their home. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera finds out why they say they still have a lot to be thankful for.

18 friends and family members were together for Sunday's meal. Tuesday, they spent their second day in a row cleaning up debris, but they say they're just glad they all made it out alive.

"All but eight years of my life I've lived in this house," said Duane Schluter. "

But the memory of what happened just two days ago is still there.

"We sat down at the table and we started filling our plates and mom got up to get something and she looked out the kitchen window," said Duane's son, Michael Schluter.

"I just saw something different," said Duane's wife, Carolyn Schluter, "and I said, 'We need to go to the basement right now.'"

So that's what they did. Three generations rushed to the basement. They made it just in time.

"I started feeling debris hitting us," said Michael.

"It was a tragic thing in the basement too," said Carolyn. "We were all thrown around."

"We looked up and it was just blue sky above us," said Michael. "The house was about 30 feet out in the field."

The Schluter family says every scrap they see reminds them of what they lived through. Carolyn needed stitches in her hand, but everyone else is fine.

"Some of us have scratches and cuts, but nothing terrible," said Carolyn.

The Schluter's say they feel blessed to have friends and family close by, like Michael, who built his home right next door.

"It's been a blessing because we have so many people," said Michael.

"It's amazing how much help you get when you need it," said Duane.

All those helpers got to take a break at Michael's house. Not quite the same as Thanksgiving, but still, so much to be thankful for.

The Schluter's say they're not sure where to have Thanksgiving dinner next year, since they have a long way to go until then, but you better believe they will still be celebrating the day together.
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