A former co-worker lives in Oklahoma City just a few miles from where a tornado ripped through town, leaving death and destruction in its wake. The minute I heard the news I logged on to Facebook with shaking fingers and was instantly looking at a photo of him, his adorable wife and three sweet young children, including a newborn, hunkered down in a nearby shelter.
They are okay. But hundreds of other families are not.
We hear about tornadoes all the time but this one was a monster. As it stands today the death toll is at 24. Hundreds of people are injured including at least 70 children, many who were in school at the time the tornado struck. Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore Oklahoma was reduced to rubble in seconds. Seven children were killed despite the heroic actions of teachers and other school faculty who herded children together and held them tightly. As the New York Times reveals, “Throughout the 500-student school, teachers and parents had shielded students and crammed into closets and anywhere else they could squeeze as the tornado bore down. Then school windows were smashed and the ceiling ripped away, showering the students with glass, wood and pieces of insulation. “I couldn’t hear anything but people screaming and crying,” Claire said. “It felt like the school was just flying.”
One teacher, Jennifer Doan, who is pregnant, was in the hall with eleven students when the sirens began to wail. She grabbed as many students in her arms as she could right as the wall caved in. Doan was buried in rubble as were most of her students. She kept telling them to hang. As the New York times reports, “In the distance she could hear their voices: “I can’t hold the rock anymore,” one said. Eventually the voices stopped.”
I cannot fathom trying to make my way to my child’s elementary school after the tornado, arriving and seeing complete destruction, and then beginning the search for my child. This video from newsok.com is filled with anguished parents searching for their childen. It’s also filled with the tearfully joyous reunions between shell-shocked parent and terrified children not to mention the shining examples of humanity as teachers take action to comfort students and assemble some organization in the midst of the chaotic aftermath.
Lastly, I wanted to point you in the direction of this video of a mom reunited with her son. After hugging the young boy, who is hanging onto his teacher, the teacher begins to tell the mom, “He was so brave. So, so. brave.”
It’s times like these that reaffirm my believe in humanity. That, in the face of destruction, we rally together and forge ahead. We always have and we always will.
Photo Credit: USAToday
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