More than two days after a massive tornado tore across 17 Mississippi counties, Yazoo City resident Sherry Carpenter is still overwhelmed by the loss.
Her three grandchildren were in this house when the tornado picked it up and smashed it to the ground.
Their mother, 30-year-old Nikki Bradshaw Carpenter, covered them with a mattress and then laid on top of it to protect them.
She was found dead but her sons survived, sheltered underneath the mattress and the wreckage.
"She saved those kids and gave her life," Carpenter told CBS News correspondent Don Teague. "But that was Nikki because those kids came first."
Officials say nearly 1,000 homes and businesses were destroyed when as many as 50 tornados swarmed across the southeast Saturday.
The largest, an E-F4 that struck Yazoo City with winds up to 170 miles per hour, measured 1.75 miles wide.
A typical tornado is just 50 yards wide.
Now the cleanup is under way and State and Federal agencies are doing what they can, with volunteers from near and far…doing the rest.
But some things can never be rebuilt. Like a family of boys whose mother died protecting them.
"They don't know their mama's gone and that they'll never see her again," said Carpenter of Nikki. "But she saved them. I have no doubt she saved those boys."
Copyright 2010 CBS. All rights reserved.