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Tornado drops boy on highway, 350 ft. from home

A tornado in North Carolina pulled three children from their home, flinging one onto a busy highway. WCNC-TV's Michelle Boudin reports.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A 7-year-old boy who was sucked from his home by a tornado on Friday and dropped 350 feet away on the side of an interstate is home from the hospital, recovering from his injuries.

Jamal Stevens suffered only minor injuries from the twister that demolished his family's two-story home in Charlotte near Interstate 485, where Jamal was found by his family a few minutes after the twister struck his neighborhood.

"I've never seen or heard anything like that," said Patricia Stevens, recalling the moment the twister "sucked out the walls" of the house in the darkness. "It was a terrible sound. I never want to go through that again. I don't want anyone to ever go through that again."

At the house, whose second story was blown away, little was left except for a garage and an exposed internal staircase. Pink insulation and debris littered the yard, which abuts the embankment of the interstate.

Related: Mom loses legs but saves kids from tornado

Stevens said that she had been sleeping on a downstairs sofa the night the tornado hit while her daughter-in-law and four young grandchildren, ages 3 through 7, slept upstairs.

The lightning and thunder suddenly picked up, there was a terrible noise, and then her daughter-in-law started passing the children down the stairs to Stevens, starting with 3-year-old twins Ashley and Amber.

When the mother ran back upstairs to get Jamal and 5-year-old Ayanna, Stevens pulled herself and the children behind the couch.

Chris Keane / Reuters

The Stevens' home was demolished by a twister in Charlotte, N.C.

"That's when the whole wall was just sucked out," Stevens said. "I was just sitting there and I just saw the walls get sucked out. I was like, 'Wait a minute, am I seeing this right?'"

She yanked open the bathroom door, thinking of the safety measures she'd heard on TV about gathering the children and crouching in the tub, but the door was all that was left.

"As they say go to the bathroom, I opened the door, the bathroom was gone, totally gone," she told WCNC.com, a local NBC station.

She then covered the twins and raced to find Jamal and Ayanna, both of whom had been sucked out of the home.

Little Ashley was unscathed. Her twin sister, Amber, was found under the rubble in the living room, alive but injured. Ayanna had been hurtled into a neighbor's yard.

"Then they had the flashlight out the back trying to find Jamal.  He's not in the yard, but we could hear him and we kept saying can you stand up, can you stand up?" said Stevens.

Jamal had been swept onto the embankment of the interstate, Stevens said.

The children were taken to Levine Children's Hospital where Jamal was treated and released, a hospital spokesman said. Two of his sisters were held for observation and released on Sunday.

"The kids this afternoon were in pretty good spirits," said Phil Whitesell, spokesman for the Carolinas Healthcare System, adding that their mother had been weeping earlier in the day.

"She was obviously very thankful that her kids were safe," he said. "I think they were all pretty anxious to be together."

Stevens was waiting on Sunday to see her daughter-in-law for the first time since the twister destroyed the home. Jamal's biggest concern, she said, was that his beloved Xbox video game console didn't survive the storm.

Patricia went back to the house Saturday afternoon and says looking at it proves it’s a miracle they all made it out.

"I looked at the house and started crying, I couldn’t believe we got out of there," she told WCNC.com.

As the nation's midsection recovers from deadly twisters, it is now also dealing with large amounts of snow. NBC's Lester Holt reports on the tornado devastation.

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