Moments after Huda Alubahi took shelter in a small closet in a bathroom with her two young sons, their house collapsed onto them as a tornado tore through Mayfield, Kentucky. 

“It happened so fast,” she recalled.

Alubahi had her 1-year-old son, Julius, in one arm and her 3-year-old son, Jha’lil, in the other.

“I grabbed them and jumped into the closet and shut that closet door,” Alubahi told David Begnaud, lead national correspondent for “CBS Mornings.”  “And by the time that happened everything was on top of us. … I couldn’t move. … It felt like all the floors and everything from upstairs probably was on me.” 

Jha’lil, 3, and Julius, 1, sheltered in a closet with their mother, Huda Alubahi, during the tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky. 

Family photo

A bathroom sink or toilet from the floor above had fallen onto her face, giving her a black eye. She said she couldn’t move her arms to try and free herself and her children. 

“My baby, my 1-year-old, was crying,” she said. 

Alubahi’s brother had also been at her home when the storm hit. He was in the living room, which had collapsed into the basement. 

Trapped in the wreckage, Alubahi said she could hear her phone ringing but didn’t know where it was. Her brother tried to locate her using the sound of the phone’s ring, until the battery ran out. He then listened to the baby’s cries to try and find them. 

Huda Alubahi

CBS News

“He ended up seeing my hand — that’s all he could see,” she said. 

Eventually, the baby stopped crying.

“At that time I thought he was gone. But he wasn’t,” she said, wiping away tears. “I never heard my 3-year-old say anything.”

She couldn’t turn her head to see if her 3-year-old was still alive. Barely able to breathe, she screamed for help. 

It took several people, including the boy’s father, to pull them out of the rubble. Alubahi was taken to the hospital, where the boys’ father told her that their 3-year-old didn’t make it. Jha’lil had died in her arms. 

“I didn’t know until then,” she said. 

“He was something special,” she said of Jha’lil, adding that he could be “a handful,” but “he was perfect.” 

Her 1-year-old, Julius, escaped without injury. 

“He was untouched, literally, nothing,” Alubahi said. 

Her two dogs also survived. The German shepherd had fallen into the basement with her brother. Her Yorkshire terrier was standing on the front steps — the only part of the house still standing — when she arrived home from the hospital. 

The only part of Huda Alubahi’s that’s still standing after the tornadoes. 

CBS News