Oklahoma tornado survivors are haunted by the memories as they look for pieces of their destroyed homes and lives.
Jesse Hall was among those who rushed to Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore after an EF-5 tornado pulverized the school. He described the frantic efforts to pull children from the rubble.
"That's what fathers do," he said. "Everything happened so fast."
He said nearly two dozen children were pulled from debris before the first paramedics could pick their way to the scene.
"They said, 'I want my Mommy. I want my Daddy. Are they OK?' I just said, 'everything is going to be OK. You are alive.' That is all you can say. My heart goes out to them ... I feel for all those kids in that school."
Hall and his mother hid in a bathroom and clutched the bathtub and each other as the storm roared overhead.
"I was sitting there praying to God," he recalled. "There was a big whoosh ... you feel the wind. You feel all the doors slam shut. All that suction. I thought I was going to be sucked out of the bathtub. I was just hovering over my mom and holding her down."
When they made it outside safely, they were surrounded by debris. He assisted other relatives who lived nearby and were buried in the rubble of their home.
The whole scene was overwhelming, but nothing prepared him for the pandemonium at the school.
"Everybody was going through the school yelling," he said. "All you could hear was little kids yelling."
He said he focused on staying calm and projecting that attitude to others.
He said Moore has been through this before and will rebuild yet again. He is waiting to be allowed back to his home so he can start the cleanup.
His own children were safe in Norman when the storm hit Monday afternoon.
Some homeowners who saw their demolished residences were reduced to tears or their knees Tuesday afternoon.
Torrential rains made it difficult for homeowners to retrieve belongings. Many used plastic tubs to put their belongings into.
"It just took out our house," Amber Anderson said. "This is horrible, this is horrible. But we'll get through it."
Iris Newman is grieving for neighbors who lost children. Her family members survived.
"The trees are all torn up and the houses are all torn up," Newman said. "There is debris everywhere. I've never seen anything like it."
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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