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May 21, 2013

Deadly tornado nearly follows path of ’99 storm

(Continued)

MOORE —

Monday’s tornado has already claimed a greater human toll and the destruction is breathtaking and almost indescribable. Monday’s tornado was the fourth to hit Moore since 1998. The city also was hit in 2003.

By early Monday evening, the parking lot directly north of the northern edge of the Warren Theater on I-35 was being used as a triage space for tornado victims. In that space, ambulances were lined up like cabs at an airport; few hundred yards north, Moore Medical Center, a full service hospital and emergency room, had been completely gutted; while, across the street to the west, a neighborhood had been flattened. Meanwhile, across Interstate 35, between the highway and South Broadway Street, a few blocks south of Main Street, another neighborhood was destroyed.

“We’ll bring every resource out that we can. We’ve had offers from other governors across the nation,” Fallin said. “I’ve even had a phone call from President Obama, who sends his prayers to the state and also offered to do anything he can to speed up our federal assistance and (cut through) type of red tape.”

Though the medical examiner’s office has confirmed 51 dead, the only precise site in which deaths have been confirmed is Plaza Towers Elementary School, located until Monday at 852 SW 11th St. in Moore.

Kelly Law, a teachers assistant at Plaza Towers, helped lead a group of children to safety, eventually finding sanctuary at the Warren Theater.

She said many parents were able to pick their children up from the school prior to the tornado’s arrival, “and I hope and pray that all of them got home.”

In the school’s main building, teachers and students gathered in the main hallway and in bathrooms that were centrally located in the school.

“The bathrooms were left and the hallway. We were safe,” she said. “All of the outside rooms, completely demolished. All of our cars were tossed all over.”

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