The Norman Transcript

Local news

May 25, 2013

Sharing stories of survival

MOORE — As Monday’s EF-5 tornado moved closer to Plaza Towers Elementary School, teacher Justin Ayers knew they were in its path.

Ayers said all of the teachers at the site likely knew what was coming from television reports and they had been communicating by various means. Part of the information shared was their locations, so that when it was over the teachers and students could be found.

“As the storm moved closer, it was obvious we were going to be hit,” said Ayers, a 5th grade social studies teacher at the school.

Ayers said the students in his area on the east side of the building, fourth, fifth and sixth graders were in a

hallway per tornado protocol. Some were in the bathroom. He made his way around the building several times and watched the 1.3-mile-wide twister approach.

“It was big. It was a very big,” Ayers said. “I could see the neighborhood to our west — gone. Cars were beginning to move from the parking lot towards us.”

His first thought was the cars could become airborne projectiles and strike the building. He didn’t know what the impact would be. Due to that threat, he re-entered the building a few minutes before the tornado struck and went into a restroom, the most central location, where they huddled as close together as they could. It’s not procedure to take cover in a bathroom, but as soon as the order was made the children responded.

At that time, the skylights were being sucked out of the building, Ayers said. The roof was peeling back.

n n n

Over at Briarwood Elementary, Principal Shelley McMillin said a lot of prayers were being said.

“We prayed a lot to God,” she said.

McMillin said she could hear grinding noises, walls being torn apart. She looked up and the ceiling was gone. She could see debris spinning in the tornado.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local news
  • N7 Sooners come together to serve Native American youth

    Whitney Wofford has faced some tough competition as a part of the Oklahoma tennis team. However, on Wednesday, Wofford may have taken on her biggest and most rewarding competition yet at the Sooners For N7 event at the Oklahoma football ...

    April 10, 2014 3 Photos

  • Earth Day activities continue this week

    Oklahoma is no stranger to extreme weather, but many say those extremes are even greater than before. Norman resident and biologist Kathy Rand is convinced those climate irregularities are a result of climate change caused by pollution, ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Moore schools receive $500K

    As Mickey Davis addressed the auditorium, the picture of a bright-eyed, happy 8-year-old on the podium in front of her could not be ignored. Davis’ son, Kyle Davis, was one of seven who lost their lives in the May 2013 tornadoes at Plaza ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Man arraigned after wife’s death

    A judge on Wednesday denied bond for a 37-year-old Norman man formally charged with stabbing his wife to death with a kitchen knife early Saturday morning in their southeast Norman apartment. Abid Sandhu, 37, was arraigned before Special ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Tornado Repair Oklahoma officials account for $9.4M in disaster spending

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Nearly a year after deadly tornadoes hit central Oklahoma, officials announced that they have spent close to $9.4 million in private donations on relief efforts....

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • School to present ‘Hamlet’

    To be or not to be? That is the question Norman North High School students are answering during their production of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” this week....

    April 24, 2014

  • Historic house celebrates centennial

    When Fredrick Holmberg arrived in Norman more than 100 years ago, he tucked his violin beneath his arm and headed for the University of Oklahoma campus.  A century later, another violinist, Cindy Zhang, will perform at the home Holmberg ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Dorman wants bipartisan appeal

    Rep. Joe Dorman said he’s proud to be a Democrat running for governor, but he hopes to garner bipartisan support. In a visit Wednesday to the Transcript, Dorman said, if elected, he wants to work across party lines like former Gove. Henry ...

    April 24, 2014

  • ‘Frozen’ to air Friday

    Movies on Main in Blanchard will host a showing of “Frozen” at 8 p.m. Friday. The evening will include hot dogs, chips, drinks, popcorn and free movie merchandise....

    April 24, 2014

  • Safety Town registration begins Saturday

    Saturday marks the beginning of registration for Safety Town classes at Sooner Mall. Safety Town, a 37-year Norman tradition, teaches children, ages 5 and 6, the importance of bicycle, fire and personal safety. Classes are 50 minutes long ...

    April 24, 2014

Video
Facebook