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M o o r e , o k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

M o o r e O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r Publisher Terry Connor


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On The Cover:

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In the aftermath of the Moore tornado on Monday, May 20, Stillwater, Okla., News Press Photographer Chase Rheam captured this photograph that symbolizes the strength of Moore residents who faced unbelievable devastation.

Moore, Oklahoma: 35 Minutes of Terror is a special publication of The Norman Transcript and Moore American, 215 E. Comanche, Norman, OK 73070 Phone: 405.321.1800. Reproduction or use of editorial content, including photographs, in any manner without permission is prohibited.

A portion of the advertising sales proceeds from this publication will be donated to the Moore relief effort.

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M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

Nick Rutledge/For The Norman Transcript

The May 20, 2013 tornado as it formed near Newcastle before moving toward Moore.




Homes Damaged

$2 billion


Estimated Damages

On May 20, 2013, one of the most powerful tornadoes to ever hit Oklahoma formed near Newcastle at approximately 2:45 p.m. Before an hour would pass, the tornado, which reached EF-5 strength at its peak, destroyed nearly everything in its path. At 3:01 p.m., a tornado emergency was issued for Moore and south Oklahoma City. Within minutes, the tornado began carving its way through Moore leaving 24 dead and at least $2 billion in damage. Thirty-five minutes later, the tornado dissipated at 3:36 p.m. over Lake Stanley Draper. The pages that follow provide a snapshot - through words and photographs - of the terror and massive destruction caused by the twister that will be remembered forever as eerily taking almost the same path of the May 3, 1999 tornado that roared through Moore and south Oklahoma City, killing 43.


M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

Moore is More.

The May 20th tornado changed Moore forever. It made us stronger. It made us closer. It made us more. When faced with adversity, we always band together. Because Moore is more than just a community. It’s a family.

BoBMoore .coM

AP Photo / The Oklahoman, Paul Hellstern AP Photo / Steve Gooch



The TorNaDo’S TiMeliNe 8

M o o r e , o k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r


2:52 p.m. 2:40 p.m. Tornado Warning Issued

Radar indicates rotation maybe reaching the ground in Moore

2:56 p.m. First reports of a tornado in progress


1. Teachers carry children away from Briarwood Elementary School after a monstrous tornado destroyed the school.


2. This aerial photo shows damage to Plaza Towers Elementary School after it was hit by a massive tornado in Moore. 3. A woman carries her child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Monday, May 20, 2013.

AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Paul Hellstern

AP Photo / Sarah Phipps

AP Photo / Sue Ogrocki

4. People react somberly in front of the Plaza Towers Elementary School

3:01 p.m. TornADo EMErgEnCY IssuED In MoorE

3:36 p.m. Tornado “Ropes Out� and Dissipates tornado 1/2 Mile Wide


3:43 p.m. First Images of destruction

7:16 p.m.

11:55 p.m.

Death toll announced at 37 by the Associated Press, via Twitter

Death toll estimate reaches 91, before being revised to 24 on Tuesday morning source: and The Norman Transcript

M o o r e , o k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r


2. AP Photo / Sue Ogrocki


AP Photo / Sue Ogrocki

AP Photo / Sue Ogrocki

M o N D aY, 5 . 2 0 . 1 3

P l a Z a To W e r S e l e M e N Ta rY SChool reSCUe 1.Rescue workers dig through the rubble of a collapsed wall at the Plaza Towers Elementary School to free trapped students. 2. Moore police dig through the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary School. 3. A boy is pulled from beneath a collapsed wall at the Plaza Towers Elementary School following a tornado in Moore.



M o o r e , o k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript

M o N D aY, 5 . 2 0 . 1 3 Moore MeDiCal CeNTer reSCUe 1. Emergency workers helps a tornado victim escape the rubble of Moore Medical Center. 2. Dennis Chastain looks around the parking lot of the Moore Medical Center after he was pulled out of a collapsed building. 3. Emergency workers pull Wilma Chastain from a building in of the Moore Medical Center that was destroyed off of 4th Street and Interstate 35. 1.

3. AP Photo / Steve Gooch


Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript

Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript

4.This aerial photo shows damage to Moore Medical Center.


M o o r e , o k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r



Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript

AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Paul Hellstern

M o N D aY, 5 . 2 0 . 1 3



M o o r e , o k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript

Kyle Phillips /The Norman Transcript

M o N D aY, 5 . 2 0 . 1 3


1. Neighbors react to the aftermath of the May 20 tornado as they emerge from their shelters. 2. A woman holds her cat as she surveys the damage to her neighborhood on 149th Street and Santa Fe Avenue. 3. Resident Kim Schwab looks over her destroyed home. 4. Cindy Wilson texts to friends Monday, after her home was destroyed. 5. Shawn Wilson stands where his house was before it was demolished.


residence walk around downed telephone poles and debris on 4th street in front of Highland East Junior High school.

(AP Photo/ The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel)

Michael Kinney /The Norman Transcript








PowEr ouTAgEs M o o r e , o k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r


A Name You Can Trust

Standing by our OKLAHOMA Community As a family owned and operated business, Salazar Roofing continues to pray for all the families who were effected by the May 2013 tornadoes. Together we stand STRONG. YUKON 209 E. Main Street Yukon, OK 73009 phone 405.350.6558 fax 405.350.0296

NORMAN 17450 S. Sooner Rd. Norman, OK 73071 phone 405.366.7900 fax 405.366.7908

LAWTON 1302 SW Lee Blvd Lawton, OK 73501 phone 580.355.6558 fax 580.355.6559




Industries of Central Oklahoma 15

T HE TOR N A D O ’ S PAT H O F D e va stat i o n

This Tuesday, May 21, aerial photo shows, from bottom to top, the path Monday’s tornado took through Moore. The huge tornado roared through flattening entire neighborhoods and destroying an elementary school with a direct blow as children and teachers huddled against winds. (AP Photo/Kim Johnson Flodin)

M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

AP Photo/Tulsa World, Mike Simons


Kriket Krekemeyer cries while cleaning up her tornado-ravaged home in Moore, Wednesday, May 22.

Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript

pring storms, forecast for several days, were rapidly approaching eastern Cleveland County on Sunday, May 19 as the pastor prepared for the evening’s services at the Pecan Valley Baptist Church in Newalla. Little Axe schools would hold commencement ceremonies a few miles west two days later and some of those graduates would be at the evening service. Nearby, at his rural Cleveland County home, Kenneth Lastinger saw the tail end of the EF-4 tornado and instinctively headed away from it, towards the Thunderbird Casino. Three years earlier, a storm destroyed the Country Boy IGA on State Highway 9. Surely, the area wouldn’t be hit again. When he returned home, the only thing left standing was his porch. His dog rode out the storm and emerged minutes later. Pages from Lastinger’s Bible collection were strewn throughout the property.  “He made it through in the demolished, blown-away house,” he said. “Praise the Lord.”

A Horrific Week

Moore residents assess damage in their neighboorhood.

AP Photo/Tulsa World, Michael Wyke

Sunday night’s twister demolished homes and businesses east of Lake Thunderbird before thrashing a mobile home park in Shawnee and then turning north to Carney. Glen Irish, 79, and Billy Hutchinson, 76, were the first casualties of a violent series of storms to hit Oklahoma. By month’s end, spotters counted 19 tornadoes. Nearly 50 persons lost their lives as tornadoes, high winds, hail and flooding cut paths of destruction through the state’s mid-section. It would be a week that once again shined the national media spotlight on Cleveland County, Moore and south Oklahoma City, with hundreds of homes destroyed, damages estimated at $2 billion and growing and an afternoon visit from President Barack Obama, appropriately timed on Memorial Day weekend. Although unknown that Sunday evening, the next seven days would forever change Moore.

Not Moore Again

By Monday morning, May 20, Red Cross shelters had been set up and volunteers began feeding the storm’s refugees in the eastern part of the county. A command post was established at the Pecan Valley Junction Store. Sheriff’s deputies patrolled the area to guard against looters. Their day shifts were soon extended as a storm that formed at approximately 2:45 p.m. began to grow violent in neighboring McClain county near Newcastle. The massive twister stayed on the ground 50 minutes, according to the National Weather Service coordinator Rick Smith. The EF-5 tornado that formed south of the Canadian River

Amber Ford, a teaching assistant, goes through the rubble of a classroom she worked in at Briarwood Elementary School.

M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r


AP Photo /T ony Gutierrez

tracked north, west of Interstate 44, before making a right turn, heading east through a densely populated area of south Oklahoma City and Moore. It would traverse nearly 17 miles, at 1.3 miles wide, before dissipating near Lake Stanley Draper on the county’s northeast edge at approximately 3:36 p.m. Moore City Manager Glen Eddy was huddled in his city’s emergency operations center as the tornado bore down on his city. “You can’t print my thoughts, Eddy said later. “I thought about how it’s going to change people’s lives and what they would do. I thought ‘Why do we have to go through this again.”


AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

This aerial photo shows destruction left behind, flattening the entire Moore neighborhoods.

Zac Woodcock salvages items from the rubble of a rental home.

“Oh My God!”

On 149th Street, Anita Acosta could see the debris cloud forming. “It started getting black, you could just see it all coming, like a big old thundering train coming, and I thought,

M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

‘Oh my God. I’ve got to shut the door. And all of a sudden it was like roaring thunder, you could hear something break and it was just shaking. I was sitting on the floor and the whole house was shifting. I was like, ‘Oh my God. I’m going. This is it.’ I was like, ‘OK. This is it. This is it. This is my life.” Nearby, Moore schools were preparing to release students for the day, the last Monday of the school year. Scott Lewis saw the forecast and decided to pick up his son, Zack, early. “I just thank the Lord that I was able to get him, that he wasn’t trapped in there - or worse.” Minutes later, Maylene Sorrels, a teacher’s aide at Plaza Towers Elementary School, heard the

AP Photo / Sue Ogrocki

Gov. Mary Fallin looks out the window of a National Guard helicopter as she tours the tornado damage. Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript

Rescue worker continues to search through rubble.

get out and what can we do.”

“God, Let it Pass”

In the rubble, police and sheriff’s deputies would find the bodies of seven children, Zack Lewis’ third grade classmates. In all, 24 persons would perish that afternoon. Teacher’s assistant Kelly Law said children took cover inside the hallways and bathrooms. “It sounded like somebody was going through with a mower and hitting a tin roof. I had my eyes shut; all of us teachers were covering as many heads as we could.” Teacher Justin Ayers knew the storm was close. “It was big. It was very big. I could see the neighborhood to our west — gone.” At Briarwood Elementary, also in the storm’s path, students would take shelter in designated areas. Some held books over their head to shield themselves from flying debris. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

warning sirens and immediately began comforting the children in her care. “We tried everything possible. We talked to our kids, we sang to the kids, we rubbed their backs and let them know that we were there. The last time, the siren went off, the lights went out and we told the kids that it was OK. And it went quiet. It went really, really quiet. “And all of a sudden the ceiling came off and debris went flying. And I just started praying that everything would be OK. And I held on to my students.” Once the tornado had passed, Sorrels started calling students’ names into the silence, hoping the worst hadn’t happened. “They took a deep breath and started screaming. I was OK with that because I knew they were alive. I was wondering if my kids were OK. I was wondering, ‘Is everybody OK? Are we all alive?’ So I just had to focus on who needs to

This aerial photo shows homes damaged by the Monday, May 20 tornado.


In the Delivery Room

A few blocks away Shayla Taylor was ready to give birth to her second child just as the tornado bore down on the Moore Medical Center complex on Telephone Road, just south of 4th Street. Other patients and staff had taken refuge elsewhere in the hospital. Taylor’s nurses decided she was too far along to move downstairs. The power went off and electrical outlets in the hallway weren’t working off the hospital’s generators. Nurses Barbara Brand, Cindy Popejoy, Bonny Stephens and Alyson Heeke moved Taylor to an operating room, closer to live electrical outlets. “They moved me in there, and then they came back and said, ‘We’re going to have to just cover you up,’” she said. “They got towels out of the warmer and piled them on top of me around the bed, and then they all just ducked down around me.” “I could feel the floor shake, and I looked up and I saw the ceiling shake, and the insulation starting to fall 20

M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

AP Photo / The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript

Two men attempt to pry open a door on this car to check for victims in a business parking lot west of I-35.

Moore Medical Center sustained major damage during the tornado.

AP Photo /T ulsa World, Michael Wyke

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. “It looked like it was in slow motion” The tornado passed. McMillin’s immediate thoughts were on the children’s safety. “I yelled as loud as I could ‘I have second graders trapped.’” First-grade teacher Leesa Kniffen had no indication of how big or bad the tornado would be. “It was unbelievable. We could hear it. I could hear that whooshing sound. I’ve lived in Oklahoma my whole life and never experienced anything like that,” she said. “Then we started hearing things hit, then the children started screaming and crying. That was the absolute worst. Trying to tell them it’s going to be OK. And really not knowing if we were going to be OK. You felt like you were being sucked up. “Things kept falling. Kids kept screaming. I just kept praying. ‘God, let it pass, let it pass.’” All of the Briarwood students and teachers would get out alive.

Jacque Burgett looks through the items retrieved from her mother’s overturned car in the Westmoore neighborhood.

Piled High

Damaged vehicles from Monday’s tornado can be seen in the parking lot of the Moore Medical Center Tuesday, May 21. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r


AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

down. By that time, I closed my eyes so stuff wouldn’t get in them. I just turned my head and I heard hail falling. And me and the nurses were just sitting and praying.” Seconds later, Taylor opened her eyes. The operating room walls were gone. Now visible was the interstate and the Warren Theatre. Her husband, Jerome, moved through the rubble and helped load her onto a backboard and into an ambulance. At Norman Regional Healthplex, Taylor gave birth to a, 8-pound, 3-ounce boy at 7:25 p.m. “His name is Braeden Immanuel,” she said. “I had the name picked out for months, but Immanuel actually means ‘God is with us.’”

Storm’s Eastward Path

Setting Up Triage


M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

A statue of a soldier on patrol remains standing at Veterans Memorial Park..

AP Photo / Charlie Riedel

In the parking lot of the Warren, hospital staff set up a triage to assess and treat patients from the hospital and other sites hit hardest by the storm. Ambulances lined the streets like cabs in New York City. The theater itself suffered an estimated $500,000 damage but no employees or theatergoers were seriously injured. Theater employee Derrick Young said guests were moved into hallways when the warnings sounded. “We evacuated all the guests and were crowded in both hallways standing shoulder to shoulder. Then everything started shaking, and then you could hear just everything hitting the building.” When the storm subsided, patrons and staff members began helping the injured in the triage set up just feet away from the Warren’s blownout windows. Volunteers began arriving, some walking miles to get there around

demolished cars and downed power lines. Andy Pecore, an OU nursing student, came from Norman where he watched the damage unfold on television. “I just thought, ‘what am I doing sitting on my couch when this is going on.’ I grabbed my scrubs and my I.D. and headed there. I’m walking around and looking for people who need help. “I’m just trying to lend a hand any way I can.”

Claudia Clark clears tornado debris from Moore Cemetery

Farther east, at Control Flow on Sunnylane, general manager Jerry Mosley was meeting with coworkers, discussing the need for an office television to monitor severe weather. Cell phones began ringing with family members warning of the storm’s eastward path. “My wife called me and told me to get to the cellar right away,” Mosley said. “I kept her on the line and told everyone we were going to Sally’s immediately.” Sally Horn, who built the company with her late husband Ronnie, lived a few hundred yards from the company’s offices. Anticipating such a storm, she had a second shelter installed 14 years ago after the disastrous May 3, 1999 tornado grazed their property. The workers stood on Sally’s wraparound porch and contemplated the storm’s path. They considered the chances it would hit them to be small. Mosley even snapped a few pictures of the approaching twister with his smart-phone. Conditions changed quickly. Baseball-sized hail rained upon them. The group scrambled to the cellar. Hail pounded the roof.

Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle

The crew and Sally survived but the home she built with her husband was damaged beyond repair. Emerging from the shelter, she looked south to where her granddaughters live. “When I saw that their houses were still standing, then I began looking around. Then it just overwhelms you.

Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle

Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle

Kathy Boelte rakes debris from among the headstones Wednesday at Moore Cemetery.

A wooden cross is propped up at the Moore cemetery Wednesday.

The drone of a tornado quickly grew to a deafening roar. Insulation flew into the shelter through an air vent. “I wanted to cry, too, but I had to try and keep my composure, Mosley said. “The roar was unbelievable and the power of it was incredible.”

A headstone stands upright in a barren plot at Veterans Memorial Park.

M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r


AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

“I don’t know what I’ll do now,” she said. “You just put your faith in God, and he’ll show you the way.”

AP Photo / The Oklahoman, Chris Landsberger

Todd Canon helps his niece Courtney Byrd salvage belongings from her tornado-ravaged bedroom Wednesday, May 22.

The Search Continues

On Tuesday, Moore Fire Chief Gary Bird said no survivors or victims were found overnight. Dogs The Death Toll searched the rubble of the two schools Before nightfall, hundreds of and homes. National Guard troops volunteers began flooding into joined law enforcement officers from Moore and south Oklahoma City. throughout the state in securing the Churches and the University of area. Two men were arrested on Oklahoma opened their doors for looting complaints. shelters. Truckloads of food, water, Volunteers arrived from throughout gloves, diapers and dog food were Oklahoma City firefighters check on Gene Tripp as he the Midwest. Joplin, Mo., pastors left packed and shipped to shelters and sits in his rocking chair where his home once stood. home at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, headed to command posts. The first supplies Moore with a stack of forms they found invaluable during arrived at Journey Church in Norman within 20 minutes. First-responders expected to find many bodies among the their city’s tornado recovery two years earlier. The tornado damaged a water treatment plant at Lake rubble. An error in counting multiplied the death estimate to 51, then 91 by midnight. By Tuesday morning, most of the Stanley Draper and the city asked residents to conserve. At missing had been found alive, and the death toll was dropped shelters, residents described riding out Monday’s storm and losing their homes. Kaye Bailey’s home on Ginger Avenue to 24. Roads near the damaged schools, hospital and theater were was destroyed. “When it finally went by, I just saw some daylight under lined with National Guard vehicles, television satellite trucks, the door,” she said Tuesday. “When I opened the door, there police cars and weary residents. Volunteers were turned away wasn’t nothing there.” continued page 29 and sent to shelters instead. 24

M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript AP Photo/Charlie Riedel


AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki


M a ss i v e C l e a n - up B e g i ns 1.Wei Lu carries a basket to collect anything she can salvage from her home. 2. Susan Kates salvages items from a friend’s tornado-ravaged home.



M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

3. Oklahoma City Thunder player Kevin Durant greets Tim Kraeger, right, at his tornado-damaged home. Durant donated $1 million to the American Red Cross for relief efforts.

Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript

Aimee Amen and Krista Scott, with the nonprofit Love OKC, climb over debris to deliver food to residents and workers working on collecting items from their damaged homes.

Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript

AP Photo / The Dallas Morning News, Brad Loper

Moore neighborhood residents and volunteers clean-up after the May 20 storm.

A sign in a shopping center on 4th Street and Telephone Road shows the strength of the Moore residents.

M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r


AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript

A volunteer carries a drawer and a bag filled with clothes.

Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript

Sharon Reid, left, and Samantha Lamb take a break from cleaning up debris at a relative’s house Thursday, May 23 in a neighborhood off of 149th Avenue and Santa Fe Aveune.

Cody Cannon looks at tornado destruction in his neighborhood from the second floor of his parent’s home that once was his bedroom.

BY THE NUMBERS Mickey Adams, right, celebrates as she finds her brother-in-law’s wallet in the rubble of his home on Southwest 6th Street in Moore Friday morning.


M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

22,000+ Insurance Claims Filed after storm

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

from page 24

She arrived at Journey Church in Norman Monday night and was supplied with clothing, food and a place to sleep. “The church is a really nice thing to have set up for people like this. Things are going on all around me. Pretty amazing,” she said. “I saw them all do it for the Piedmont tornado, too. I wasn’t in that, but my best friend’s sister was. When they say on TV that Oklahoma is a great state — I’m sure other states do the same for their people, too — but it’s a great state. It’s amazing.”

Volunteers Target Cemetery Clean-up

Rosella Poff’s gravestone was set in Moore Cemetery just nine months ago. Then in the span of a few seconds the monster tornado pulled her memorial from the red earth and cast it, in pieces, away from her final resting place. Rosella’s widower, Dean, tried to visit the cemetery earlier in the week to check on her grave, but storm damage and emergency workers blocked the roads along 4th Street. Dean finally reached her grave Wednesday morning. What he found amazed him. Responding to a call for volunteers, about a thousand people, including an army of youngsters armed with gloves, rakes and shovels, had walked to the small cemetery early Wednesday. They had shovels and buckets and plastic bags to clean up the grounds so those who died in the tornado could be buried. Dean walked up to her gravesite and found the stone was missing. Volunteers nearby helped him look for it. “We looked around and found all the parts. They carried it back, sat it up on there,” Dean said. The volunteers then carried buckets of water and washed the mud and debris off it. Giving their time to clean a holy place for the coming dead reminded Dean Poff of the good in humanity. “It just means to me there are a lot more good people than there is bad ones. That’s what it means to me,” he said. Less than 48 hours after the storm that traveled a path eerily close to the May 3, 1999 storm that killed 43, the recovery efforts were in high gear with neighbors helping neighbors begin the long process of rebuilding Moore. Cash gifts started coming into the United Way of Central


Minutes From start in Newcastle through Moore


Miles the tornado Traveled on the ground


Tornado’s Strength on enhanced Fujita scale M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r


AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Oklahoma which acted as a clearinghouse for the gifts. Oil and gas giants Devon and Chesapeake announced major gifts as did other companies. Oklahoma City Thunder players Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha and Hasheem Thabeet, along with Thunder General Manager Sam Presti visited Moore to tour the area and meet with victims. Durant’s foundation donated $1 million to the Red Cross fund.

Her Nickname Was “Ladybug”

Graduation Goes On

Proud Moore, Westmoore and Southmoore graduates filled the Cox Convention Center in


M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

Southmoore High School senior Miranda Mann adjusts her mortar board as she get ready to attend her commencement ceremony. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Antonia Candelaria, 9, loved to sing and knew the words to most of the songs on country radio stations. Her family said goodbye to her at a Thursday funeral, the first of seven for Plaza Towers students. She was remembered for her gentle and loving spirit. Her family nicknamed her “Ladybug,” complementing her sisters’ nicknames, “Butterfly,” and “Dragonfly.” She loved to play music, draw, paint, color and make crafts. Her schoolmate Kyle Davis, 8, was buried on Friday. Complete Nicknamed “The list of Wall,” by his soccer victims on teammates, Davis was page 38 a force on the pitch. He was large for his age and other players seemed to bounce off him, his family said. He had taken shelter in the school’s gymnasium with other students. “He was in the position that the teacher told them to be in  — crouched down with their hands over their heads,” said his grandfather Marvin Dixon. “The medical examiner said either some big rock or beam or something fell right on the back of his neck. He said he died instantly.” During the next few days, Moore and surrounding communities paid honor to those who died during the storms.

Southmoore High School senior Jake Spradling, hugs a classmate as theyprepare for commencement ceremony.

downtown Oklahoma City for respective commencement ceremonies Saturday May 25. There were many tears as participants tried to work through their grief and put some normalcy back in their lives. Southmoore seemed to be hardest hit as many graduates lost homes. Plaza Towers Elementary, destroyed by the May 20 storm, eventually feeds students into Southmoore. “You are being recognized around the world,” Moore school superintendent Susan Pierce told the graduates.



8948 S. I-35 Service Road • Oklahoma City, OK 73149 • 405.616.3673 •

Joy Hampton / The Norman Transcript

President Barack Obama addresses the victims of the record breaking May 20 tornado.

Celebrations were in order for the graduates even though their world “had been literally turned upside down.” Some people ask, why do I live in Oklahoma,” Pierce said. “That’s a silly question. Why wouldn’t people want to live in Oklahoma? There’s just something special about this place.”

Sunday Morning In Church

On Sunday morning, less than a week after the storms, Moore churches welcomed their congregations with messages of hope and resiliency. At the First United Methodist Church the Rev. Jeremy Basset drew parallels between the resurrection of Lazarus and Moore’s struggle to rebuild. “Jesus goes to the place of suffering. Jesus leaves Jerusalem, the center of political and religious power and happenings, and goes to the margin, to the place of pain and brokenness and suffering...Thank God we still live in a nation where, when there is pain, people move toward the pain. At the Moore Church of Christ, evangelist John Strain said prayer was badly needed. “We all had a rough week. It was a way to encourage people to go out to the community to find ways to help.” Church member Dee Boone said the tornado let people know God is still in charge. “It lets us know God is still in control. He allowed this, but he didn’t cause it.” At St. Andrews Catholic Church, the Rev. Jack Feehily said the previous week’s message was about Pentecost, and the movement of the Holy Spirit.


M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

“Monday,” Feehily said, “we saw a different kind of mighty wind, which will blow when and where it will, which reminded us we are not in control.” Deacon Jerome Caplinger called the process of healing a sprint and a marathon. “This community of faith will be called on for a long time to rebuild physically, emotionally and spiritually,” he said. “God is here with us, even through those who don’t believe but feel compelled to act for the betterment of others. Good is a part of who we are as humans, and God is comforting us through each other and our witness to him.”

President Obama Visits Moore

Later Sunday, President Obama seconded the governor and pastors’ vows of strength and resiliency in an afternoon visit, six days after the storm. He toured the area’s hardest hit, including a walk by Plaza Towers Elementary School. “You are not alone,” he said. “You’ve got folks behind you.” Teams of FEMA employees were on the ground within hours of the storm. “When we say we got your back, we keep our word,” Obama said. “When we say we are going to be here until you are completely rebuilt, we mean it.” At Plaza Towers, Obama hugged Principal Amy Simpson. “Obviously the damage here is pretty hard to comprehend,” Obama said. “Our hearts go out to the families who have been impacted, including those who had loved ones who were lost. That was true for the parents of the seven children here at Plaza Towers Elementary School.” The president walked through what was left of Plaza Towers. “What we are seeing here gives you some sense of what the people of Moore and the people of Oklahoma have been dealing with these last several days.” At Fire Station No. 1, Obama spoke with emergency personnel, many of them still working at cafeteria tables in the station’s empty bays. He thanked them for their efforts. “We could not be prouder of you,” Obama said. “When

continues page 36

Homeland would like to thank our volunteers, associates and vendor partners who donated their time and resources to helping our neighbors in the weeks following the Moore tornado. We are committed to the ongoing support and recovery of those affected.

Oklahoma Owned, Moore Proud


M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

Our Success is Measured by Something Very Simple...


On May 20, 2013, life changed forever for the many residents of Moore and the state of Oklahoma including an employee and many friends of our own. Our deepest sympathy and prayers go out to all who were affected espcecially those who lost loved ones. Muirfield Homes by Alan Cheshier has been involved in the homebuilding business in Norman and surrounding area since 1986. We look forward to helping families rebuild their homes the way they want them. Visit our fully furnished Showcase Home in Norman at 3001 Lochinver Drive in the Highland Village Community (on Porter/Sunnylane between Tecumseh Road and Rock Creek Road).Talk to fellow Moore resident and tornado survivor Scott Williams there or give him a call at 405.292.5225. Our Showcase Home is Open Daily from 1-6 pm and on weekends from 2-5 pm.To see our homes online, visit

Joy Hampton/The Norman Transcript

Joy Hampton/The Norman Transcript

from page 32 we say we’re committed to being here until the work is completed, we mean it. Everybody across the country is rooting for you.” Obama met in private with some of those affected by the storms and families of the children who died at Plaza Towers before heading back to Washington, D.C. “We know Moore is going to come back stronger from this tragedy,” Obama said. “We’re going to be with you every step of the way. This is a strong community with strong character. It’s going to take a long time for the community to rebuild. We know Moore is going to come back strong from this tragedy.”

President Barack Obama and Plaza Towers Elementary School Principal Amy Simpson talk during the president’s visit to Moore.

Healing in the Heartland

In the days that followed, the acts of kindness continued, including a concert organized by country music superstar and Oklahoma native Blake Shelton and his wife Miranda Lambert that was headlined by some of the biggest names of the music industry. Five New York firefighters arrived in a convoy pulling trailers full of relief supplies. “We live in one of the Long Island suburbs (Island Park, N.Y.) that was overlooked during the tough and ongoing recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy and so we know how it feels to need help in times when disaster strikes and you are one of the smaller communities effected,” Tom Asher said. John Weber, one of the initial firefighters to organize the


M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, President Barack Obama, Rep. Tom Cole, Gov. Mary Fallin, and FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate survey the tornado damage along a residential street in Moore on Sunday, May 26.

goodwill trip, said that it kind of snowballed. “At first, it was two guys and a truck with relief supplies headed to Oklahoma, but enthusiasm for doing something to help people in need grew into a five man team,” Weber said.   From Indiana, Jennifer McConahay arrived with about two dozen other women. She lost her home, and almost her life, when a violent tornado struck Henryville on March 2, 2012. On Friday, she headed to Oklahoma with a group to pay forward the relief help she received in the storm’s aftermath to those reeling from the much mightier tornado that touched ground in Moore. “We lost everything,” McConahay said of the storm’s effect on her family. “Two cars. Two homes. Two minutes.”

Her volunteer group worked a weekend and plan to be back. “Our first trip is (for) initial supplies and to get our feet on the ground to see what they need,” Jennifer Corkum said. The women, and the rest of the Indiana Cares volunteers, hope to give Oklahoma victims the same care that has been given to March 2, 2012, EF-4 tornado victims. “A broken community can’t do it on its own,” McConahay said. “They need surrounding communities to help repair.” The benefit concert inside Chesapeake Arena that Shelton and Lambert organized raised an estimated $6.5 million for relief a little more than a week after the Moore tornado. Healing in the Heartland sold out within minutes and was

televised nationally on NBC. Joining Shelton and Lambert were Norman native Vince Gill, Darius Rucker, Usher, Reba McEntire, Ryan Tedder and Rascal Flatts. Gov. Mary Fallin said the concert helped soothe a tough week in Oklahoma. “We’ve been knocked down, but we are back on our feet. We’ve come together to help each other, helping rebuild stronger communities. We’re going to help build a stronger state. That is what being Oklahoma strong is all about. We are strong, Oklahoma.”   Compilation of Norman Transcript staff members’ articles. Compiled by Andy Rieger

M o o r e , O k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r


Faces of the Storm The following people lost their lives during the May 20 tornado

JaNae Hornsby, 9 Karrina Vargyas, 4 Sydnee Vargyas, 7 months Terri Long, 49 Kyle Davis, 8

Moore, Oklahoma Tornado Recover y

How can I Help?

Christopher Legg, 9 Megan Futrell, 29 Case Futrell, 4 months Antonia Candelaria, 9 Emily Conatzer, 9 Nicolas McCabe, 9 Sydney Angle, 9 Shannon Quick, 40 Tewauna Robinson, 45 Hemant Bhonde, 65 Randy Smith, 39 Jeany Neely, 38 Cindy Plumley, 49 Deanna Ward, 70 Rick Jones, 54 William Michael Sass, 63

Our thoughts and prayers are still with those affected by the May tornadoes Our thanks and appreciation go out to all those who stepped up to help

Richard Brown, 41 Gina Stromski, 41 Leslie Johnson, 46

825 N. Interstate Dr. • 321-2411

Thank You To All Emergency Service Responders

Pray for Oklahoma necklaces, charms and lapel pins are available for $50 and 100% of your purchase will be donated to United Way to distribute locally toward tornado recovery efforts. Please join us as we Pray for Oklahoma.

2201 West Main Street 405.360.2515 ♦

Do you need diapers, wipes or baby formula? The Baby Pantry provides emergency baby supplies for local families. Center for Children and Families: 1151 East Main Street in Norman, Oklahoma M-F 8 AM-5 PM

Cardiology • Emergency Services Orthopedics • Robotic Surgery Women’s Services

Healing Children. Empowering Youth. Strengthening Families.

or call: 405-364-1420

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Help is here. Our hearts go out to all of those impacted by recent storms and tornados. AAA is actively supporting our members in Oklahoma and other areas. If you are a policyholder and have been affected by recent storm events, call us 24/7 to start a claim. We’re here to help.

Insurance provided by AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah Insurance Exchange and its subsidiaries. Š 2013 AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah Insurance Exchange. All rights reserved.

Call us at 800.207.3618

A Mission to Serve. A Passion for Care.

Staying Strong for a

Better tomorrow

We salute the families, first responders, and volunteers who have exhibited exceptional character in this most challenging time.

Together we will heal and push forward to move beyond this tragedy into a brighter future.

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Member FDIC

“ What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ~Henry Stanley Haskins

In hopes of contributing to the healing of storm victims in our community, Brown Mackie College — Oklahoma City is serving as a collection point for item donations to the Salvation Army and Red Cross. Suggested items for donation: • Water

• Hand sanitizers

• Hand towels

• Gatorade

• Diapers

• Work gloves

• Individually wrapped snacks

• Wipes

• Sunscreen

• Baby formula

Items can be dropped off in the Student Lounge at 7101 Northwest Expressway. THANK YOU!

7101 Northwest Expressway, Suite 800, Oklahoma City, OK 73132


©2013 Brown Mackie College 06/13 3162 Brown Mackie College is a system of over 25 schools. Brown Mackie College — Oklahoma City is a branch of Brown Mackie College — Salina which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association (230 S. LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500, Chicago, IL 60604, 1.800.621.7440, This institution has been granted authority Granted authority to operate in Oklahoma by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, 655 Research Parkway, Suite 200 Oklahoma City, OK 73101 405.225.9100.


For those affected by the May Tornadoes, Pond Butler would like to offer our sincerest condolences. We know the rebuilding of your homes and getting life back to normal is a priority. Pond Butler is here to help in anyway possible, if you need assistance with insurance quotes for any type of water feature damaged or destroyed in these storms please contact us. • Custom Design Maintenance Programs

• Professional & Environmentally Safe Products

• New Design & Remodel Construction

• Lighting, Fire Pits & Landscaping

• Certified Pond Pro Contractor 405-834-8793

• 17 Years Combined Experience


want to save you money on car insurance. contact us to see how much you could save


6401 N.W. Expressway, Ste 100-B Oklahoma City, OK 73132

Agent Ed Shelton Some discounts, coverages, payment pants and features are not available in all states or all GEICO companies. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington D.C. 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary © 2013 GEICO

is where the heart is. Oklahoma Strong

1400 SW 24th Ave. • 364-1912 •



Clark Mitchell Senior Pastor Journey Church


made easy.

Moore Based, Moore Strong.


Citywide Mortgage is pleased to offer permanent mortgage solutions with special disaster relief options available through FHA. Call 405.794.4412 to speak with one of our friendly Citywide Mortgage specialists today. Loans subject to approval. Certain restrictions may apply.


9400 S I-35 Service Road, Oklahoma City

NMLS #120886


Coming together. Assisting those in need. Rebuilding communities.

It’s what cooperatives do. It’s what we do.

OKLA H OMA STRO NG Our thoughts and prayers are with those that were affected by tornado. We’re here to help Rebuild.

To report a power outage or safety hazards call

405-321-2024 For the latest updates:


eal McGee

Custom Homes 

Quality Built Homes for Your Lifestyle


Informing You Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow.

N & Moore american 2 1 5 E. Co m a n c h e | w w w. n o r m a nt ra n s c r i p t . co m | 3 6 6 . 3 5 8 0

Moving Forward

Blake Sheltong at the “Healing in the Heartland” relief benefit concert nBC photo/Trae Patton

Rascal Flatts at the “Healing in the Heartland” relief benefit concert nBC photo/Trae Patton


M o o r e , o k l a h o m a : 3 5 M i n u t e s o f Te r r o r

Moore, OK: 35 Minutes of Terror  
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