Tales of Tragedy, Heroism Out of Oklahoma

Teacher threw herself over kids as twister hit school

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 21, 2013 3:48 AM CDT | Updated May 21, 2013 7:59 AM CDT

(Newser) – As frantic search and rescue efforts continued through the night in Oklahoma, officials warned that the death toll—which has been downwardly revised to 24—from yesterday's horrific tornado was still expected to rise, CNN reports. The destruction is "the worst thing I have ever seen," a highway patrol trooper tells the Oklahoman. The latest on the devastation:

  • The death toll includes at least seven children, who died in the Plaza Towers Elementary School, which was destroyed by a direct hit. Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb tells CNN, "Quite frankly, (I) don't mean to be graphic, but ... some of the children drowned, because they were in the basement area."

  • First-grade teacher Becky Jo Evans desperately moved her students into a bathroom and threw herself over them as walls collapsed, a friend of Evans tells the Los Angeles Times. Evans then helped pull children from the rubble, though some may still be missing.
  • AP photog Sue Ogrocki writes that a line of volunteers steadily pulled kids from Plaza Towers yesterday—calmly and quietly so that they might hear the cries of other trapped children. As they passed one boy along the human chain, his dad appeared and the pair were reunited. More on her account here.
  • The New York Times has a map of the storm's path.
  • Some 9.5 million people from Texas to Arkansas are still under threat of "large and devastating" tornadoes, according to a Weather Channel forecast picked up by MSNBC.
  • Want to help? The Red Cross has ways to give.
  • President Obama is expected to give a statement at 10am Eastern, reports Politico. He's already "offered to do anything he can to speed up our federal assistance," Gov. Mary Fallin tells MSNBC.
  • Click for more on the disaster.

Two men walk through debris in Moore, Oklahoma yesterday.   (AP Photo/ The Oklahoman, Nate Billings)
A boy is pulled from beneath a collapsed wall at the Plaza Towers Elementary School following a tornado in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013.   (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
Workers walk past the rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary School after a tornado moved through Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013.   (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
A woman is pulled out from tornado debris at the Plaza Towers School in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013.   (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
A child calls to his father after being pulled from the rubble of the Tower Plaza Elementary School following a tornado in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013.   (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
A woman carries a child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013.   (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
A child is carried from the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary School following a tornado in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Moore police dig through the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary School following a tornado in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
A boy is pulled from beneath a collapsed wall at the Plaza Towers Elementary School following a tornado in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013.   (AP Photo/ Sue Ogrocki)
A fire burns in the Tower Plaza Addition in Moore, Okla., following a tornado on Monday, May 20, 2013.   (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
This photo provided by KFOR-TV shows homes flattened outside Moore, Oklahoma yesterday.   (AP Photo/KFOR-TV)
Rescue workers dig through a collapsed wall at the Plaza Tower Elementary School to free trapped students in Moore, Okla., following a tornado on Monday, May 20, 2013.   (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
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