Okla. Tornado: Inside the Leveled School
Survivors recount terrifying minutes as twister hit
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2013 4:18 AM CDT
Updated May 22, 2013 6:17 AM CDT
An aerial view shows the remains of Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

(Newser) – As the massive tornado hit the Plaza Towers Elementary School, "it sounded like rivets being pulled out by a monster," a teacher's assistant tells the Wall Street Journal, recounting how she and some 10 other adults huddled and tried to protect as many children as they could during the minutes of terror. Seven children died as the tornado leveled the 500-student building at the end of the school day Monday.

When the twister hit, ripping the roof away and showering people with debris, "I couldn’t hear anything but people screaming and crying," an 11-year-old student who squeezed into a bathroom stall with six other girls tells the New York Times. "It felt like the school was just flying." Officials say emergency plans were carried out before the tornado hit, but the school was not required by law to have either an underground shelter or a reinforced safe room above ground. Around 100 schools in Oklahoma do have safe rooms paid for with federal funds, but funding has disappeared in recent years and many schools are still on the waiting list.

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Showing 3 of 11 comments
Ivan_the_Gypsy
May 22, 2013 10:07 AM CDT
There's been tornados in the area for ther past thousands of years. Schools should all have been constructed with safe rooms when they were originally con structed in tornado alley.
Ivan_the_Gypsy
May 22, 2013 10:04 AM CDT
That's the problem with expecting "the government" to pay for and do everything for you. The local taxpayers pay enough school taxes today to have built the safe room. The government NEVER does anything right or efficently, or quickly without red tape.
CopTurnedJournalist
May 22, 2013 6:43 AM CDT
Scaramouche... "It's been two days. I'm politicizing this now:" Your sensitivity is underwhelming. "There's your precious GOP at work, Oklahoma! ... I'm sick of your foolish Bible-Belt bullshit endangering my children." I'm sick of both parties wasting your and my money on things the federal givernment [sic] has no constitutional authority or jurisdiction over, keeping the governments of the states from having the funds they needs for very valid projects like tornado shelters for schools, which they have the legitimate right and authority to carry out. Perhaps if those of you who support "the Left" and "the Right" would realize that it's not Republicans or Democrats who are the problem, it's WASHINGTON that is the problem, we could start reducing the amount of money and, therefore, control the federal government has over our lives and returning that authority and the money that goes with it to the state legislatures where it belongs. I GUARANTEE you that - if the State of Oklahoma had the money that was devoted to the federal program for tornado shelters - there would have been one at that school. But, because the money had been "legally stolen" from Oklahoma through illegitimate federal taxation, they couldn't afford to protect their own children. Remember: When someone from Washington says, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you," it's a LIE!