Jha’lil Dunbar, 3, died as he took shelter in his mother’s arms when a twister struck their Mayfield, Kentucky home on Saturday
A heartbroken Kentucky mother is mourning after her three-year-old son died in her arms when a tornado obliterated their Mayfield home on Saturday, pinning the family under the rubble.
Huda Alubahi said she took shelter in a closet with her sons, Jha’lil Dunbar, 3, and Julius Dunbar, 1, when the warnings siren rang.
She held both boys in her arms as she remained trapped under either a bathroom sink or toilet.
‘I never saw my 3-year-old because my face couldn’t turn that way,’ Alubahi told CBS. ‘I did see the baby, and he cried, and then he just stopped. So at that time, I thought he was gone. But he wasn’t.’
Julius’ screams led rescuers to their location and the family was taken to the hospital where her sons’ father, William Dunbar, informed Alubahi that their son had died in her arms.
‘I wish I could have saved my son,’ she said, holding back tears.
The three-year-old boy is among at least 88 people who were killed in the swarm of tornadoes that ripped through five states and caused widespread devastation to entire regions last weekend. More than 100 people remain missing.
Kentucky which was hardest hit by last weekend’s storms and had at least 74 confirmed fatalities, including a dozen children.
In Bowling Green, 11 people died on a single street – Moss Creek Avenue – among them seven children, two of whom were infants.
Gov. Andy Beshear cautioned that the number of fatalities ‘is fluid’ and ‘will change’ as rescuers continue to search through debris, noting ‘it may be weeks before we have counts on both deaths and levels of destruction.’
Meanwhile, 92 million Americans remain under wind alerts Wednesday as another massive system moves through the midsection of the country, including in Kentucky.
President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for the state earlier this week and mobilized nearly 450 National Guard members. Ninety-five of them are searching for those presumed dead.
On Wednesday, he took an aerial tour of Kentucky to survey the areas hardest hit by the storms. The White House said officials are doing everything they can to deliver assistance to impacted areas as quickly as possible.
Huda Alubahi (right) said she held Jha’lil (left) and his one-year-old brother in her arms as she remained trapped under either a bathroom sink or toilet
The three-year-old boy is among at least 88 people who were killed in the swarm of tornadoes that ripped through five states and caused widespread devastation to entire regions last weekend (Pictured: Huda Alubahi’s Mayfield home after it collapsed on Saturday)
Jha’lil and Julius’ father told Alubahi at the hospital that their three-year-old son had died (Pictured: Jha’lil on left, Julius on right)
Alubahi said she was sitting in the living room with Jha’lil and Julius when the tornado sirens went off. She wanted to take shelter in the basement, but didn’t have time to get her family there.
‘I heard the alert and the power went out. My 3-year-old, he said, “Mommy, I’m scared,”‘ she recalled.
‘As soon as I heard kind of like train noises, I grabbed both of them and just jumped into the closet in the bathroom. By that time, everything was just falling on top of us.’
The twister shredded their home, causing the upper floors of the Mayfield house to crash down on top of Alubahi and her children.
She held Jha’lil and Julius in each arm as they waited for help.
Alubahi said her brother, who was searching for them, found them by following followed the sounds of her infant son’s cries.
‘He ended up seeing my hand — that’s all he could see,’ she said.
It took numerous people, including the children’s father, to pull the family out of the rubble. Julius was rescued first and untouched by the debris.
‘He was untouched, literally, nothing,’ Alubahi said.
Alubahi, who suffered a black eye from the falling debris, said Jha’lil died in her arms as they laid trapped under the rubble. Julius was untouched by the debris
The storm left a trail of wreckage in its wake that stretched from Arkansas to Illinois
Alubahi said her brother, who was searching for them, found them by following followed the sounds of her infant son’s cries. It took numerous people to pull the family out of the rubble
The family was taken to a nearby hospital treatment where Alubahi – who suffered a black eye from debris falling on her face – learned Jha’lil didn’t survive.
‘I didn’t know until then,’ she said. ‘He was something special.’
The mother aded that although Jha’lil could be ‘a handful’ he was ‘perfect’.
His loved ones say Jha’lil was loving, friendly and always excited to go to daycare, The Courier reported.
He enjoyed Paw Patrol, playing with Nerf guns, doing flips and playing with his older siblings, Damarion and Javion Noonan, Khaliyah Garnett and his one-year-old brother, Julius Dunbar.
The three older children were at their father’s house miles away during the storm in an area that wasn’t struck.
Alubahi also shared that her two dogs survived the collapse.
Meanwhile, nearly 160 miles away in Bowling Green, 14 people were killed within a few blocks, and 11 people, including seven children, died on one single street when a tornado touched down Friday night.
The neighborhood lost entire families, specifically on Moss Creek Avenue where the seven kids were killed, two of them infants.
The storm left the community in ruins and residents stricken with grief.
In Bowling Green, Kentucky 14 people were killed within a few blocks, and 11 people, including seven children, died on one single street when a tornado touched down Friday night (Pictured: Damage from the neighborhood as seen on Dec. 14)
A bicycle lies among the debris on Moss Creek Avenue in Bowling Green on Dec. 14. The neighborhood was one of the hardest hit areas in the city after a tornado ripped through the weekend before
Melinda Allen-Ray, who claims she has barely slept since the tornado alerts started screaming and she carried her grandchildren into the bathroom for shelter as the winds whipped her house apart, said she heard her neighbors screaming.
‘I heard them – it traumatized me. I think about that each night when I go to sleep, when I do sleep,’ she said. ‘I just think about all those babies.’
The neighborhood features a diverse population with families from Bosnia, Myanmar and Nigeria, many of whom fled to escape violence.
Two brothers – originally from Bosnia – lived next door to each other in Bowling Green and lost many members in the storm. From the two brothers’ households, one woman died, along with two children and two infants, police said.
Another family here lost six members: three adults, a 16-year-old girl, a 4-year-old boy and another child.
Bowling Green resident Ganimete Ademi, a 46-year-old grandmother who fled Kosovo in 1999 during the war that killed her uncle and a nephew, said the storm destruction reminds her of her homeland and the dark days where people hid from bombs and lost whole families.
‘We come from war; this reminds us, it touches the memory of that, where we’ve been and how we came here,’ Ademi explained. ‘I turn my memory back to 22 years ago.’