News

In Tornado’s Wake, Worried Parents Seek Out Kids

View Comments
Piles of debris and mangled trees remain after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Okla. (credit: Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Piles of debris and mangled trees remain after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Okla. (credit: Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Featured Items

Small-Wtt8 Offensive Stars J.J. Watt Is Better Than

Small-WttTerran Hilow W/ Triple Threat

77820352_8Hot Cheerleader - Funny Faces 2014

From Our CBS Music Sites

77820352_8Sleeping With More Than 20 Women Lowers Your Cancer Risk

77820352_812 Musicians Who Really, Really Love Sports

listicle41 In Tornados Wake, Worried Parents Seek Out Kids The Health Benefits Of Growing A Beard

77820352_8Fight Ensues Because Of A McGriddle [VIDEO]

Get Breaking News First

Receive News, Politics, and Entertainment Headlines Each Morning.
Sign Up

MOORE, Okla. (AP) — The parents and guardians stood in the muddy grass outside a suburban Oklahoma City church, listening as someone with a bullhorn called out the names of children who were being dropped off — survivors of a deadly tornado that barreled through their community.

For many families, the ordeal ended in bear hugs and tears of joy as loved ones reunited. Others were left to wait in the darkness, hoping for good news while fearing the worst.

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office revised the death toll number to 24 so far in Moore, the Oklahoma City suburb ravaged by Monday’s tornado that packed winds of up to 200 mph, after some of the victims were double-counted. The twister reduced one elementary school to a heaping mound of rubble and heavily damaged another while also flattening block after block of homes. Officials said early Tuesday the death toll could rise by as many as 40.

At St. Andrews United Methodist Church, parents stared into the distance as they waited, some holding the hands of young children who were missing siblings.

Tonya Sharp and Deanna Wallace sat at a table in the church’s gymnasium waiting for their teenage daughters. As Sharp and Wallace spoke, a line of students walked in.

Wallace spotted her 16-year-old daughter, who came quickly her way and jumped into her mother’s arms, pushing her several steps backward in the process. But Sharp didn’t see her daughter, a 17-year-old who has epilepsy. She worried her daughter hadn’t taken her medicine.

“I don’t know where she’s at,” Sharp said. Later, she went to speak to officials who helped her register so she could be notified as soon as her daughter was found.

Shelli Smith had to walk miles to find her children. She was reunited with her 14-year-old daughter, Tiauna, around 5 p.m. Monday, but hadn’t yet seen her 16-year-old son, TJ, since he left for school that morning.

TJ’s phone had died, but he borrowed a classmate’s phone to tell his mother where he was. However, Smith couldn’t get to him due to the roadblocks. So she parked her car and started walking.

It took her three hours, but a little after sunset, she found him. She grabbed her son and squeezed him in a tight hug that lasted for several seconds before letting go. TJ hugged his sister, and then hugged his mom again.

The family had a long walk back to their car and then home, but she said she didn’t mind.

“I was trying to get him and they wouldn’t let me,” she said, adding later: “I was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to get my son.’”

Renee Lee summed up the struggle for many parents with multiple children — find the ones who they hadn’t yet seen, while calming the younger ones they had with them.

Lee is the mother of two daughters Sydney Walker, 16, and Hannah Lee, 8. When the storm came, she tried to pick Sydney up from school. Sydney told her on the phone that they wouldn’t let her come in. While Lee and her younger daughter waited in their home, which wasn’t hit, Sydney was safe in the room at a local high school.

Lee said she believed Sydney wasn’t hurt and seemed resigned to the severe weather outbreaks.

“There’s been so many of them, it doesn’t even faze me,” she said. “You just do what you gotta do. It’s part of living here.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

View Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25,275 other followers