Leicia Fairchild had only one thing on her mind as a tornado ripped apart her home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, last week.
"My son, my son, I got to get to my son," Fairchild recalls.
Fairchild was relieved to find her 8-week-old son, Christian, unharmed in her mother's home down the hill. But her elation has turned into despair as she gets ready to spend her first Mother's Day in a shelter with more than 200 others displaced by last week's devastating storms.
"I pictured Mother's Day at home with his father, and happy and everything, and it's far from happy. Iām in a shelter with my son," she said.
The American Red Cross set up the shelter just a few miles outside Tuscaloosa, where a massive tornado cut a 5.9-mile-long path of destruction last week. More than 5,700 structures were damaged and destroyed, affecting an estimated 13,700 people, a mayoral spokeswoman said. The city has held off on releasing an official count of the dead, but CNN last reported the death toll at 50.
Fairchild was sitting at home with the father of her baby when she heard a loud noise and looked out the window and saw a tornado heading for her house.
"We ran and just dove under the sink and the whole house lifted up and started to go with the wind, and we were just praying to God the whole time and all I could think about was my baby,ā Fairchild said Saturday as she sat in the shelter's cafeteria.
Before the storm had ended, she was running down the hill to see if her mother's home was still there.
"They pulled nails out of my feet where I had to run through my house. We had to climb over a huge tree that landed on our house that was blocking the door, and I had to climb over that tree. I was determined to get to my son."
The child was unharmed. Fairchild's mother and the boy's father also survived, but their homes were destroyed.
Fairchild hopes to leave the shelter soon and move into an apartment. Her first Mother's Day wasnāt supposed to be like this.
"He's a blessing. I get to tell him he lived through a tornado at 8 weeks old."