Mudslide aftermath: ‘We found my mom, and we found baby Sanoah’
Natasha Huestis had very sad news to share: The rescuers had just found the body of her 4-month-old daughter, Sanoah, out in the mudslide.
Earlier this week, rescuers had found the remains of Sanoah’s grandmother -- and Huestis’ mother -- Christina Jefferds, 45.
The pair had been 10 feet away from each other.
They were together until the end, and for that, Natasha Huestis is grateful.
“It’s an absolute relief,” Huestis, 26, told the Los Angeles Times in a phone interview on Thursday, after she got news that the two had been found. “Now we can move on to the next part.”
“We found my mom, and we found baby Sanoah.”
For almost a week, Huestis and her father, Seth Jefferds, had already been in mourning and wondered whether rescuers would ever find the pair. They all lived together along the Stillaguamish River; Huestis and her dad had gone to town and left baby Sanoah with Christina Jefferds.
That’s when the mudslide hit, sweeping through the community of about 50 homes and killing at least 16 people.
The slide has been so immense and treacherous that even some rescuers were worried whether they might ever find all the victims. Ninety people remain missing, according to officials’ latest tally.
Huestis said she got word from her dad that Sanoah’s remains had been found, along with some of their scattered personal belongings -- but there was nothing left of their home.
“It was like somebody put a stick of dynamite in there,” Huestis, a single mom, said.
Far from being tearful, Huestis was composed and said she was thankful for everyone’s thoughts.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really sad, tragic event -- but I’m so happy that my mom and my daughter have each other, and they’re in a good place,” Huestis said. She added of Sanoah, “I got to hold her, and all I could do is smile, because I was so happy to have her and to hold her.”
Of her mom, Huestis said: “My mom was super sweet, and so incredibly kind, and gentle-hearted. She just wanted love; she wanted happiness. She had an adventurous side, and some things she tried before she passed away were skydiving, indoor skydiving, and flying trapeze.”
Asked what she wanted people to know about her loved ones, Huestis shared the following.
Of Sanoah: “She was a happy baby. She loved to smile, and she was so loved by everyone around her. We got approached by several strangers -- they always said how beautiful she was. Before she passed, she was about to laugh, she was just getting so close.”
Of how she and her dad were holding up: “It’s really rough on all of us. But I really want to try and do what my mom would do, and that is be strong, and to keep being inspiring to family members, because that’s what’s going to get us through this.”
Of the community outpouring: “I am so grateful, and so incredibly loved, and I had no idea. I am so happy. Something that I want to express to everyone is the gratitude -- I have so much gratitude for everyone who is involved with this, who is thinking about this.”
Huestis said she hoped to run in a memorial 5K race in August, and she added, “I hope everyone gets out there and does it. I will definitely be out there in the front line cheering people on who are there next to me.”
Huestis asked that the public continue to give donations for the victims after the mudslide.
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