After a tornado ripped through the Brookstead neighborhood of Charlotte, N.C., early Saturday morning, Sheena Redfearn heard a child yelling for help. Her husband went outside and found his next-door neighbor, 7-year old Jamal Stevens, on the side of the highway.
Jamal had been wrenched from his second-story bedroom by the tornado and set down on the other side of a fence bordering Interstate 484, hundreds of feet from his home. Miraculously, he suffered no major injuries.
Jamal's grandmother Patricia Stevens told MSNBC that the twister sucked out the walls of her house while she was asleep on the sofa. Her daughter-in-law Latonya Stevens and her four grandchildren, including Jamal, were asleep upstairs.
I've never seen or heard anything like that, Patricia said. It was a terrible sound. I never want to go through that again. I don't want anyone to ever go through that again.
When the tornado hit her home, Latonya Stevens ran up and down the stairs in an attempt to pass all four of her children down to Patricia. The two youngest children, Ashley and Amber, reached their grandmother and huddled behind the couch. But when the tornado blew off the house's upper level, both Jamal and his sister Ayanna were thrown off the property. Ayanna landed in the neighbor's yard, while Jamal went a bit farther.
Three of the children suffered minor injuries and were taken to Levine Children's Hospital, but all have since been released. Though the house is demolished, the entire family is reportedly in good health. After the tornado had passed, Patricia was both shocked and thankful. I looked at the house and started crying; I couldn't believe we got out of there, she said to WCNC News.
On Sunday, volunteers and police gathered to help clean up the area.
Just happy to see that whenever something like that does go down, to know that all the neighbors came together. It wasn't just one or two of us. Everybody was out here, Sheena Redfearn told WFMY News.