'The Earth Was Opening Up'

What Lori Herek thought were innocuous noises was actually the beginning of the end of her home, and moments of sheer terror.

Herek's was one of at least 17 multi-million dollar houses destroyed when they crashed down a hill in a landslide Wednesday in Laguna Beach, Calif.

She told The Saturday Early Show co-anchor Gretchen Carlson Thursday she was having a cup of coffee when she thought she heard water leaking under the house.

"Then I heard popping and cracking noises. And I thought possibly it was hail hitting the house."

When she went outside to investigate, she knew she was in trouble: she saw land literally separating.

So she ran back inside to alert future-son-in-law Ryan Haskell, who was asleep.

"It just started happening so quickly; the pops and the cracking of the foundation were so loud that I screamed for him to get up, and something horrible was happening to the house, I didn't know what, but that we just needed to get out of the house," Herek says.

"And we ran. As we ran out of the house, I saw my curb actually separating from the street. And as we ran to my next-door neighbor's house, within probably less than 60 seconds, I looked back over at my house and it had buckled and was sliding down the canyon."

Ryan says he was shaken when he awakened: "I thought it was hailing outside. I thought maybe she was joking with me. I really didn't know what to think. It was just really, really scary."

Herek says she "absolutely" thought she might not survive.

"The telephone poles were actually falling," she says. "The earth was opening up. Water mains were breaking. The houses were sliding. The hill was sliding with such force and so rapidly that literally, we were trapped up there. The street had lifted about 20, 30 feet up into the air. It was like something out of a movie, honestly. And our only recourse was to run down the canyon as the houses were sliding around us."

And in the end, she added, "We don't have a home at all. It's gone."