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Survivor saw homes 'exploding' from massive mudslide force

Associated Press

SEATTLE - Amanda Skorjanc was watching videos with her infant son when the lights in her home started to flicker and shake.

She looked outside and saw a terrifying sight: a massive mudslide crashing down the hillside and nearby houses "exploding" from its force.

A neighbor's chimney was barreling toward her door, so Skorjanc gripped her son tightly and turned away.

"I held onto that baby like it was the only purpose that I had," she said. "I did not let that baby go for one second."

When it was over, the powerful river of mud and debris had laid waste to Skorjanc's entire rural Washington community, killing at least 36 people and destroying dozens of homes.

Skorjanc and her baby were among only a few people pulled from the rubble alive.

On Wednesday, the 25-year-old mother gave her first interview about the March 22 ordeal from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where she remains hospitalized.

Skorjanc is starting to recover physically, after several broken bones have begun to mend six surgeries later, but she and her doctor acknowledged the emotional healing will take a very long time.

Certain sounds bring Skorjanc right back to that frightening Saturday morning. "If the wind blows too hard. If someone is pushing a bed past me, and it rumbles the floor a bit."

"It brings back the same sight over and over again," Skorjanc told a pool of reporters from The Daily Herald, KOMO-TV and KIRO Radio.

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