Family with newborn survives EF3 tornado in SUV

"Welcome to my house. The place is a bit of a mess," Derrick Mason jokes.

He doesn't have much left in the world, but he has a good spirit and "ain't going nowhere."

Mason was one of the many people in the northeastern Texas town of Van whose home was destroyed by an EF3 tornado on Sunday.

"We huddled up right here. I just wrapped my arms around them and the house shook off the foundation."

Like many of his neighbors, Mason discovered remnants from his home and pieces of furniture throughout the 10-mile long tornado zone.

Andy and Brandi Bouchillon's story is another amazing one.

They're banged up, but thankful beyond words that they and their 2-week-old daughter, Bailey Grace, are alive.

They were inside an SUV that went airborne when the tornado hit. It ended up wedged in a clump of trees.

"We started turning. The car started flipping and I was just praying. I don't remember nothing after that. Turned the car seat sideways… was holding it… laid over the top of it and that was it," Brandi Bouchillon said.

"I crawled. I don't know how I got out," her husband said.

They returned to the scene Tuesday to find their missing dog. Tater was still guarding the SUV.

Andy Bouchillon said looking at the vehicle he's not sure how anyone survived.

The family has a temporary place to stay and a new vehicle thanks to help from Andy's boss at an auto shop.

The Masons will be staying with relatives, reflecting while they rebuild their lives.

"I'll be honest. I had the briefest moment when the house was shaking and the roof was getting torn off. I thought, this is it. This is how I'm going to die. Then it was over and I thought, ‘Hell yeah! Let's go. Let's get out of here,'" Mason said.

A charity group is currently coordinating the teams of volunteers now showing up to help in Van.

The Virginia-based Operation Blessings sent an advanced team to coordinate the removal of debris and perform other labor on damaged homes.

The group is operating out of the Van United Methodist Church.

Anyone 18 years or older who is interested in helping can visit or call 757-274-8650 for more information.

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