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Iowa family's home torn apart by devastating tornado Saturday night

The Burkett Family called this place home for nine years, but it was gone in a matter of seconds.

WINTERSET, Iowa — Wendy and Tony Burkett were at home with two of their daughters when they noticed something big on the horizon Saturday afternoon. 

The sound resembled that of a freight train, and the black clouds glimmered as debris flew across the sky. They knew it was a tornado. 

The room where the family hid is now leveled, and they were only down there for what felt like a minute. From under the rubble, they emerged, their lives changed forever by the surrounding devastation. 

"We could see our belongings everywhere," Wendy told News 8's Shelby Kluver. "And we could see that our house was pretty much gone." 

The funnel ripped away most of the upper level of the family's house, which they had called home for nine years. The garage and shed were also ripped away by the powerful winds. 

One of the girls' bedrooms, now completely open to the outside, is missing the roof and walls. On the ground, there are just piles of debris. Everything from insulation pieces to broken pillows, even pieces of clothing.

Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service announced the tornado to be an EF-3 rating with winds blowing up to 138 miles per hour. The Madison County Emergency Management Agency identified the six people killed in this storm. Another was killed in Lucas County. 

The Burkett's home suffered greatly. The inside of the house that once held memories for the family resembled a war zone. Years of memories were buried under chunks of drywall and broken glass. 

RELATED: Cleanup underway at 20-acre flower farm in Winterset

When the tornado came through, it blew a massive amount of objects from the house, all the way up into the hills and the trees. Things like insulation, wrappers, toys, even Tony's flannel, up in a nearby tree branch. 

"Cause I had a whole pile of laundry that I was doing in the living room," Wendy explained. "And that all got sucked out and thrown into trees."

RELATED: Tornado aftermath: National Weather Service confirms 2 tornadoes in central Iowa, including EF-3 near Chariton

The Burketts' neighbors were also hit hard in the storm, some left in worse shape than others. 

"It just puts it in perspective that there were people that did not survive this that are our neighbors down the road," said Wendy. 

Despite the devastation, the Burketts made it out unharmed, which Wendy called "the most important thing" about the situation.

"We survived and everything's replaceable, except for us," she said. 

But not all was lost in the wreckage. 

"My great-grandmother's quilt. I didn't even know that it was missing, but a friend of ours found it wrapped on a tree up in the woods," Wendy said. 

The road to recovery is just getting started, and rebuilding is expected to take months. However, the Burkett Family is counting their blessings.

"Yeah... I'm just, I'm just really thankful that we survived," Wendy said.  

A GoFundMe has been created to help the Burketts rebuild. Those who wish to donate can do so by clicking/tapping here

Watch more coverage on News 8's YouTube channel

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