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Family of 10 Displaced by Gaylord Tornado Finally Returns Home

A Northern Michigan family of 10 is preparing to go back to the home they love 11 months after the Gaylord Tornado destroyed it.

The tornado that touched down on May 20 of last year destroyed many homes in Otsego County. The Murrells, with kids ranging in age from 4 to 21, were one of those families displaced.

The house looks far different than it did after the tornado obliterated it.


“We lost a garage, we lost a roof, we lost a front porch. We lost all the insulation, the drywall, the siding, the windows, most of the flooring. I mean, it was it was close. There’s a point where there they decided it’s either salvageable or not and that we were right on that line and they insurance deemed it was still salvageable,” said David Murrell.

It wasn’t a total loss, but had it been, the Murrells said they would have started over somewhere else.

David is a builder by trade

His friend owned a property they were considering turning into a vacation rental. David had just finished work on it a few weeks before the tornado.


“And she called the night of the tornado and she’s like, I know why we did it. And she was like, it’s yours. You can have it as long as it takes,” said David.

The Murrells hunkered down and built back, bigger and better than before.

“If we’re going to make it our house, we’re going to make it the way we want, where we added the master bedroom above the garage and just did a couple of other things to make it look more feasible for the size of the family than what was,” said David.

The Murrells said it was hard burning the candle at both ends but they wanted to keep things as normal as possible for the kids.


“Our 11-year-old had to babysit a lot at night and a lot of little siblings. And but so everybody stepped up. They stepped up. They did work here. They came in, helped with demo. They pulled drywall to the dumpster,” said Brandy, a stay-at home mom.

The Murrells said after a year of feeling like they’ve been camping and living with just the necessities, they are ready to turn their house back into a home.

“The house over there is almost empty. There’s only a couple of beds. And it’s just this weekend is the push to get everything out there by the end of the month. It’ll be great to be here. We’re going to go from a three-bedroom house back to a five bedroom,” said David.

The Murrells said they plan to be moved back in by Sunday. They also said they plan to host plenty of parties in the future in their bigger home.

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