The Norman Transcript

News Features

May 25, 2013

Sharing stories of survival



“It looked like it was in slow motion,” she said.

After the tornado passed, McMillin her thoughts remained on the safety of the children.

“I yelled as loud as I could ‘I have second graders trapped,’” she said.

All of the Briarwood students got out alive, McMillin said. The teachers were calm. She didn’t see teachers panic or scream.

They ignored their injuries and took the remaining children out.

Back at Plaza Towers, Principal Amy Simpson knew the tornado coming. She got on the intercom and made an announcement: “It’s coming. Stay down and cover your heads.”

Finally, Simpson took cover. “You heard it coming.” She said it’s cliché, that a tornado sounds like a freight train, but it’s true.” Outside, she could hear the wind, which began moving things around; peak winds have been estimated to be 200-210 mph. Debris started falling. “It shook us,” she said.

Seven Plaza Towers students died. The first burial was Thursday. Two more were on Friday.

Simpson said tornado drills are made with groups of 26 students lined up in the hall. That many can’t fit into a restroom, Simpson said.

As parents picked up students and fewer were in the building, protocol allowed for flexibility in decision making, Simpson said. The school had a total student population of 497 students.

Moore Public Schools Superintendent Susan Pierce said the district’s focus is to take care of the Moore family.

“We grief the loss of life, we attended two funerals this morning and we want to express our care and sympathies to those who are suffering as a result of the tornado,” Pierce said.

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