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Mother and son crawl to safety after tornado flattens their home

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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Joann Balinsky and her 14-year-old son are sharing their story after a tornado flattened their home in Gulf Shores… leaving them with nothing.

Balinsky spoke to FOX10 news, wincing through the pain of her injuries.

“It happened so fast that you really can’t think of anything but trying to go find the other people in your home, and when I couldn’t get to my son, it was just trying to survive it- it was just trying to survive it. It was just rolling and throwing us everywhere,” Balinsky said.

Balinsky was on the couch in her living room when she heard heavy winds, and she says the EF-1 tornado seemed to come out of nowhere.

“It didn’t even give me enough chance to get to Bobby’s bedroom– so that we could have been together,” Balinsky explained.

Balinsky says in just a few minutes, her home was completely gone. Miraculously, she and her son–buried under the wreckage–crawled to safety.

“We crawled out. I crawled where that guy is digging from right there,” she said.

“And underneath all that roofing and rubble is where I crawled out,” said Bobby Burns, motioning in the direction of the aftermath.

After calling 9-1-1 and walking across the road to first responders, they were rushed to the hospital.

“The power line was down all the way in the road so the firefighters couldn’t get to us,” said Balinsky.

Lori Harris is just one of several neighbors stepping up in the area to help with the clean up.

She says her own boat, parked under her house, was launched across the lawn.

Still, Balinsky is the only one in the area taking the brunt of severe damage.

“We didn’t even know it was here- it was so quick, that things started flying, trees started flying, boats started floating through the air. But I tell you what– this community, they are awesome. People came out to help this morning and stayed right with it all day with chainsaws and getting us a clear path,” said Harris.

A roof wrapped around a tree, shattered glass, countless items and limbs scattered everywhere are all that is left of Balinsky’s residence.

Despite the tragedy, Harris says they’re trying to find hope in the horror.

‘I have neighbors from down the road stop to help– that was, to me I was floored. I got new friends. I was like– I like y’all,” she added.

Meanwhile, Balinsky and her son are trying to salvage items from the wreckage while healing from their injuries.

“I got four cracked ribs, two broken ones– that are broken in two spots a piece, I got twelve staples in the back of my head and broken toes,” she added.

“And I have eight stitches – one in my arms, seven in my leg,” said Burns.

Several residents in Balinsky’s neighborhood say Balinsky is known for being kind and generous, helping the elderly and babysitting children. Now, they’ve decided it’s their turn to help– and are rallying behind her to start a fund.

Hali Landry, a family friend of Balinsky, is starting a Facebook fundraiser.

Balinsky is pleading with the community for support — and she says she’s simply thankful to be alive.

“We’re tough customers,” she said, smiling at her son.

If you’d like to help Balinsky, you can give to their fundraiser here.

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