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Sunday
Mar302014

Woman Finds Strength After Losing Mother, Baby in Landslide

Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times-Pool/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- A woman who lost her home, mother, and 4-month-old baby girl in the Washington state landslide says she is feeling "strong," despite her devastating ordeal.

Natasha Huestis lost just about everything she owned in the world when a wall of mud and rock engulfed the rural area where she lived about 55 miles northeast of Seattle on March 22, killing at least 17 people. But it's not her home or possessions, but her family that Huestis is missing above all else.

Huestis said she wishes she "could bargain with someone, and make a deal," to get back her daughter, Sanoah, and mother, Christina Jefferds.

"You could never imagine this happening to anyone," Huestis told ABC News affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle. "My little baby Snowy. I wish I would have had more time with her because you just look at her and she smiles at you. ... She's precious. She meant the world."

At the moment the landslide swept through the area, Christina Jefferds was babysitting her granddaughter in their Arlington home, while Huestis and her stepfather, Seth Jefferds were both at work.

On Sunday, volunteers found Christina's body as they dug into the 5 million cubic yards of mud and debris with poles, family friend, Jan Schuette, told ABC News.

Four days later, rescue teams recovered Sanoah's body 10 feet away from where her grandmother had been found.

"It was an extraordinarily emotional day," Schuette said. "It is a real miracle that they found that little tiny baby. It was heartbreaking for them but they never gave up hope."

All that remains now of the family home is "six boxes of their whole life," which are currently spread out in Schuette's garage, she said. Muddy photos, wedding items, and stuffed toys are among the only mementos Huestis and Seth Jefferds have left of their family.

Some of the other items found near the home did not belong to the family, but to neighbors. They had been swept from other homes "as far as five houses up," Schuette said.

Schuette said Huestis has been "so gracious and so grateful" throughout the ordeal, with the help of a tight knit community that has "really pulled through" in this time of crisis.

"Natasha is the most incredible person, I cannot believe how torn she has been and how she has dealt with this unspeakable tragedy," Schuette said. "Seth and Natasha are both strong people and they'll get each other through."

"It's too easy for someone to sink into a hole and not want to get out of it," Huestis said. "My mom would never want me to live my life that way. Never.

"It's not over and there's so many good things to come," she said. "There are."

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