Southwestern Indiana Family Hit by Tornado Ends 2020 With New Start

By Christina Elias | January 4, 2021

NEWBURGH, Ind. (AP) — Nathan and Melissa Mosbey were overwhelmed with gratitude for the friends who showed up on Dec. 12 to help them start moving into their home.

This moment of generosity came months after a similar one when friends and strangers alike gave their time helping clean up in the aftermath of the tornado that ripped the roof off that same house nearly nine months ago.

This time, there were significantly fewer people on the Mosbeys’ property due to rising cases of COVID-19. When an EF-2 tornado tore through Newburgh on March 28, more than 40 people showed up within hours to offer the family their help. A number of them were Nathan’s coworkers from Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana, many of them he’d never met.

“I’m glad that we live in a community like this where people will help out,” Nathan said. “It’s good to be in a place like that, because I know there’s a lot of places it’s not like that.”

He said that while he doesn’t see many of the people who offered their help in March at work, the coworkers he does interact with have become invested in Nathan’s family and often are asking how they are doing.

“They asked me at least every other week, `Hey, are you getting close to being in your house?”’ Nathan said. “And they’re surprised how long it’s been.”

When the Mosbeys finally were able to begin moving back in after months of construction, their community showed up to help again, even when Melissa stressed to her friends that they didn’t have to.

“Every single one of my friends was like, `Yeah, I’ll be there,`” Melissa said.

Jessica Muehlbauer is a friend of the couple who was there that day in March. She said it was special to see complete strangers come together after the tornado.

“Most of the time you don’t see stuff like that,” she said. “You see it on (the) news, and you don’t get to witness it. So it’s just, it’s kind of taught us a lot. That, you know, when things are really down, people do step up and help.”

So when it seemed like the construction was coming to an end, she offered to help them to start to move in on Dec. 12.

“I’m just excited they’re going to be back in their home, and they can have some normality again,” she said. “They would do anything for us. They got so many people that would do so much for them.”

The Mosbeys were displaced at the beginning of the pandemic after the tornado turned their world – and their shed – upside-down. Nathan and Melissa moved with their daughters Luna, 5, and Terra, 3, into the house that Melissa had converted a few years before into part of her business.

Melissa runs All Breed Grooming, Boarding and Daycare in Evansville. Luckily, they could live temporarily on the second floor of the property’s house. Even though they had somewhere to go while they rebuilt their house, they said it was hard adjusting to the smaller space with their two young daughters, six dogs and two cats.

The rebuilding process was drawn out because construction companies also had other tornado-related projects to work on, not to mention the consequences of the pandemic like slow shipping.

“It was crazy — it felt like it was never going to happen,” Nathan said.

“We’ve been walking in and out, and it was just depressing coming in here when it was all destroyed, you know,” he said. “But now that it’s getting back to looking like a house again, it’s pretty nice. Can’t wait. Still overwhelmed, still grateful, you know, but I’m not going to take it for granted this time, that’s for sure.”

The tornado and COVID-19 weren’t the only things that made 2020 a year to remember for the family.

“Bad things come in threes: COVID hit, tornado hit, my mom got cancer. We’re done with bad things,” Melissa said.

The Mosbeys view their move and the holidays as a new beginning for their family. Melissa had hoped the house would be finished in time for Thanksgiving, but she settled for Christmas instead.

“She was pushing hard to get it done before Christmas so that we can still have our tree up,” Nathan said.

They had about a week to get the tree up, but it made it before Christmas. And the kids woke up in their own home for Christmas.

“That’s a good feeling, absolutely,” Nathan said. ” But we’ll get the tree up before Christmas and have the kids Christmas at home, so that’s a good feeling, absolutely. If COVID wasn’t happening, we’d probably have a big New Year’s party just to get 2020 over with.”

The family was determined to spend the holidays in their new home.

“I felt bad because I kind of told the construction guy, I said, `Hey, just so you know, we’re moving in this weekend, so I hope you’re almost finished,”’ Melissa said, laughing, earlier this month.

She said the girls are looking forward to having a backyard to play in again. Melissa looked forward to surprising Luna and Terra with a Power Wheels car for Christmas, so they can take full advantage of the outdoor space.

The Mosbeys still have work to do before they’re fully settled in, but they did spend their first night in their home on Dec. 20. Melissa said the girls were happy to be reunited with the toys that had been in storage, and both slept through the night for the first time in months. The kids have yet to take advantage of the backyard, but Melissa said the dogs have been enjoying it.

“It’s been emotional, and it’s been a relief, and stressful at the same time,” Melissa said. “But overall, we’re glad to be back home.”

Melissa said they looked forward to enjoying a slow Christmas day together, at home. And then it’s time to look ahead to the new year.

“We paid our dues, and we don’t owe 2020 any more,” Melissa said.

About Christina Elias

Elias wrote this for the Evansville Courier & Press.

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