The Norman Transcript

News Features

May 26, 2013

Tornado aftermath: Walking the path of destruction

MOORE — The crying starts nearly every hour. There is no warning or preamble. Just an overall flow of tears and emotions.

That was the routine of 11-year-old Brady McKay for two days after he and his classmates were trapped inside at Briarwood Elementary School on Monday during the most devastating tornado to ever hit the state.

With his school directly in the path of the EF-5 event, even at a young age, McKay knows he was precariously close to death.

“The tornado’s path was supposed to be at Westmoore (High), but it curved and it hit us,” McKay said. “I heard it was on top of the school for about three minutes. They said it went slower than the May 3rd (1999). I don’t believe that or else we would be dead.”

The tornado that changed McKay’s life — and those of 33,000 others — first touched down at 2:45 p.m. Monday in neighboring Newcastle.

It crossed into Moore 20 minutes later.

Over the next 19 minutes, the tornado would create a 14-mile path of destruction through this community, which had prided itself on its resilience in coming back from the monster tornado that hit in 1999.

“Always try to keep a smile on your face,” said Ron Meyer, who was in Moore during the 1999 tornado also. “You can cry over spilt milk I guess, but there is nothing you can do about it. Just call State Farm and get back to it.”

Monday’s twister would swell to 1.3 miles at its widest point. At its strongest, it would blast the community with winds reaching 210 mph. It would take two dozen lives — including 10 of the community’s children — and injure more than 350 others.

The tornado would destroy two elementary schools, make a direct hit on Moore Medical Center and take a solid shot at one of the community’s most popular destinations, the Warren Theatre.

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