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Nebraska brothers return home, recall cartwheeling through the air after being sucked into tornado

By Alex McLoon

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    ELKHORN, Nebraska (KETV) — Roger and Royce Slatten were inside their home in the Ramblewood neighborhood when the Arbor Day Tornado Outbreak rolled into Elkhorn.

They ducked into the basement with their two dogs, until little Yorkiepoodle Nico scampered upstairs. The Slattens went to scoop up their best friend just as an EF-3 tornado clawed away at the roof and the rest of the house.

“The whole house kinda lifted,” Royce Slatten said. “You could feel the vacuum and the whole house lift up.”

Each of them were thrown into the sky. Royce remembers bits and pieces of being in the sky and being pelted on the back.

Debris tore up their torsos and bruised their limbs.

“(I’m) still pretty rough,” Roger said, gingerly walking.

Roger recalled cartwheeling in the air until he landed in the backyard. His right arm was free to call 9-1-1 to his home that was on top of him.

“You can’t do anything about it, so you kind of just do what they tell you on all the survival shows and just go limp,” Roger said, recalling Bear Grylls.

Royce, a military man himself, thought he lost his brother. Deployment had nothing on that feeling.

“Even thinking about it kind of chokes me up because I really thought he was dead,” Royce said.

‘It was like a freight train’: Elkhorn family must rebuild 30 days after moving into new home due to Friday’s tornado. Read more.

The brothers and their dogs are back together and staying with loved ones. It’s a story dozens of volunteers can’t believe.

“I can’t even imagine, like I look at the houses and how some are still put together, and some are completely destroyed,” volunteer Sarah Deselms said.

Even through the stitches in their backs, the Slattens say it could have all been much worse.

“I’m standing here without any support right now, and our whole house is gone,” Royce said.

Neither suffered broken bones. They say their story, and the volunteers who keep coming back to clean the neighborhood, are a miracle.

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