News / USA

Oklahoma Tornado Victims Share Stories of Survival

Oklahoma Tornado Victims Share Stories of Survivali
X
May 21, 2013 4:09 PM
The deadly tornado that ripped through the midwestern state of Oklahoma on Monday left entire neighborhoods flattened, homes, businesses and schools destroyed. As emergency workers sift through the wreckage Tuesday, survivors are sharing their experiences. VOA's Jeff Custer has more.
Jeff Custer
The deadly tornado that ripped through the midwestern state of Oklahoma on Monday left entire neighborhoods flattened, homes, businesses and schools destroyed. As emergency workers sift through the wreckage Tuesday, survivors are sharing  their experiences.

Among the countless buildings struck by the three-kilometer-wide tornado were two elementary schools - hit just as students were about to be released for the day.

Sherry Biddle, a teacher at Briarwood Elementary School, described how she helped her students protect themselves.

Deadliest U.S. Tornadoes Since 1900

March 1925: 695 killed in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana
April 1936: 216 killed in Tupelo, Missouri
April 1939: 203 killed in Gainesville, Georgia
April 1947: 181 killed in Woodward, Oklahoma
May 2011: 158 killed in Joplin, Missouri
April 1908: 143 killed in Louisiana and Mississippi
June 1953: 116 killed in Flint, Michigan
May 1953: 114 killed in Waco, Texas

Source: NOAA
"I had them take their backpacks and put them over their heads, just as another safety precaution, in the center of our room, in the center of our building," she said.

Briarwood third-grade student Caden talked about what he experienced as the tornado passed.

"I was on the ground, and I just, my ears just went WHOOO, and I couldn't hear anything except cracking and kids screaming," he said.
Incredibly, all the students at Briarwood Elementary School have been accounted for. Another school, Plaza Towers, was not so lucky.

Comparison of Tornado paths in Moore, Oklahoma - May 3, 1999 and May 20, 2013Comparison of Tornado paths in Moore, Oklahoma - May 3, 1999 and May 20, 2013
x
Comparison of Tornado paths in Moore, Oklahoma - May 3, 1999 and May 20, 2013
Comparison of Tornado paths in Moore, Oklahoma - May 3, 1999 and May 20, 2013
As of early Tuesday, police said seven students had died there and at least 24 were missing. In the chaos following the storm, rescuers and parents searched frantically for surviving children.

One emotional parent was able to locate his child. "I'm just happy that I was able to find my son and that my family's okay," he said.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said "hearts are broken'' for parents looking for their children. She deployed the state National Guard and extra police to assist with rescue operations.

Loading...

  • A man stands among the wreckage in Moore, Oklahoma, May 20, 2013
  • Storm chaser Brad Mack records the tornado in Oklahoma.
  • The storm system that generated an F-4 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma is pictured in this May 20, 2013 NASA photo.
  • John Warner surveys the damage near a friend's mobile home in the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park, destroyed in a tornado, near Shawnee, Oklahoma, May 20, 2013.
  • A fire burns in the Tower Plaza Addition following a tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, May 20, 2013.
  • Moore police dig through the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary School following a tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, May 20, 2013.
  • This photo provided by KFOR-TV shows homes flattened outside Moore, Oklahoma, May 20, 2013.
  • A tornado moves past homes in Moore, Oklahoma, May 20, 2013.
  • A woman carries her child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma, May 20, 2013.
  • Seven-year-old Katrina Ash holds a doll as she waits in the back of a truck with her grandfather, Michael Bowen, after a tornado ripped through their neighborhood near Dale, Oklahoma, May 19, 2013.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: riano baggy from: indonesia
May 22, 2013 7:04 AM
this moment not make we down but we can rise again with hands in hands to built our properties and ours community.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid