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November 20, 2013

Putting pieces back together

NORMAN — Though debris from the May tornadoes have long been swept away, many Moore residents are still left picking up the pieces.

Maylene Sorrels, a Plaza Towers Elementary teacher’s aide who was inside the Moore school when it was destroyed by the EF-5 tornado May 20, said the journey to recovery is one she’s still traveling.

“Six months later — just because everybody is gone — we’re still healing,” she said.

The single mother of 10 children, ranging in ages from 12 to 20, said the family lost their home and most of their belongings from the tornado. The family lived in a hotel for about a month after the storm and are now living in a rental home in Moore while they wait for insurance to process before they rebuild their home.

Since May, the family has set about returning to a routine. Sorrels has returned to work at the temporary elementary school set up on the Central Junior High School campus, and her children are back in school, too. Though their list of needs — both physically and emotionally — are extensive, Sorrels said they are taking things day by day.

“Things are going OK, but they’re not great. It’s not back to normal, and I don’t think it will ever be,” she said. “I think it’s the new normal, or what we consider normal.”

Being back at Plaza Towers has been bittersweet, Sorrels said. While she is grateful for the love and support of fellow staff members, Sorrels said the staff and students still miss the children who lost their lives during the tornado.

“I don’t think that’s ever not going to hurt in some way,” she said. “The sharpness may go away, but the pain — I don’t think that will ever stop. I honestly don’t.”

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