For the family of Justin and Diana Mosley and their five children, life after the May 10, 2008, tornado will never be the same. They are still rebuilding, and trying to put together the pieces of their home in Newtonia.

For the family of Justin and Diana Mosley and their five children, life after the May 10, 2008, tornado that ripped through Southwest Missouri will never be the same. They are still rebuilding, trying to put together the pieces of their home in Newtonia.

“We just got the loan, so we are fighting weather and trying to get (repairs) done as fast as possible,” Diana Mosley said. “We can’t afford to hire the work done, so Justin is doing most of the work. We have had some help from family and friends. The kids and I are doing what we can. (Daughter) Mariah even broke her arm falling from the ladder; she was helping her daddy shingle and was coming down the ladder when a gust of wind caught the ladder and she fell over 5 feet to the ground.”

Back on that fateful day before Mother’s Day last year, the family was watching a DVD after Justin had performed a family wedding at the church that afternoon.

“We had no idea that there were any storm warnings issued at all,” Diana Mosley said. “My mom had been trying to call and warn us, but I had left my phone in the van. Justin’s mom got through on his phone and said that there were tornadoes on the ground heading our way.”

They opened their front door and could see the tornado in the distance. They grabbed the kids and ran to warn the neighbors. They took some of the neighbor’s kids in their van and took shelter in Newtonia Baptist Church’s basement, just a few blocks away.

“The kids and I got into the basement just before the tornado hit,” Diana Mosley said. “Justin on the other hand, never made it into the basement; he was helping a teenager inside after she was hit in the head from a falling branch. 

“After he helped her inside, he went to see if anyone else was outside and the pressure from the tornado approaching made the door to the church close and he could not get it open. As the tornado bore down on the church, Justin and our neighbor, Mark (who was outside also), grabbed onto the posts and the door handle and hung on. I was in the basement with 17 children and the kids were scared, and so was I, and they were crying so I started praying out loud for God to protect us all.”

After the tornado passed, it took the family more than an hour to walk only six blocks from the church to their home because of all of the debris that littered the town. When they arrived, all of the windows on the front and both ends of the house were either blown out or broken, and a large tree fell through the roof.

“The most damage was to our three daughters’ room, it was destroyed, and both windows were broken, and the door had a huge hole in it,” she said.  “Everything was twisted and broken.

“Their beds, dressers, all their clothes, everything. The boys’ room window had busted and there was glass, shingles and water all over their beds and clothes.”

Other damage included electric lines ripped from the pole, the porch destroyed, Tina’s hot tub she received from Make-A-Wish was destroyed, a shed was destroyed and vehicles were damaged.

“But we were alive and not hurt and that’s was all that mattered,” Diana Mosley said. “No lives were lost in Newtonia that day. Homes and things can be replaced, but family, friends and a community cannot.  Several people died that fateful day and we were some of the lucky ones. God truly protected us.”

The family never left their home after the tornado.

“We had no choice but to stay in the house. We just stayed in the living room and did the best we could,” she said. “We had our big dog, Reba, a momma cat that just had babies and five baby chicks. There was nowhere we could go. We have just been fixing it and doing the best we can.

Rebuilding a house after a devastating tornado can be stressful.

“We try to stay positive, but rebuilding and dealing with insurance, FEMA, mortgage companies, etc., is so stressful,” she said. “It feels like things will never be done. Newtonia will never be the same again. We will never be the same again. The tornado forever changed all our lives.”

Of the nearly 200 people that live in the town, some people left, but the Mosleys decided to stay.

“A lot of people have left and many will not come back, but for us, this is our house, this is our community,” Diana Mosley said. “Our kids have grown up here.

“This is our home.”

Neosho Daily News