Two Schools Hit by Tornado, One Happy Ending

Several Okla. students died at Plaza Towers elementary, but no casualties at Briarwood.
3:34 | 05/22/13

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Transcript for Two Schools Hit by Tornado, One Happy Ending
Start out with david muir tracking the tale of two elementary schools. Seven children lost at one. Everyone getting out safe at the other. Good morning, david. Reporter: George, robin, good morning to you and as you know this morning for the first time we're beginning to see the faces of the young victims of this tornado. We've also learned something else about the strength of the tornado as it hit those two elementary schools. Take a look at this dramatic before and after. This is briarwood elementary, the before, now look at the after this morning. We've learned it was an ef-5 as it hit that schoo more than 200 miles per hour. Plaza towers, the second school, the before and the after and, of course, that's where we lost seven children. This morning we hear from a father who raced to that school not knowing if his daughter was alive. 9-year-old janae hornsby, his father was on the way to the school to pick up his daughter. He got stuck in traffic and couldn't get there in time. When I got to the school, it was completely gone. It was just rubble. There was no way to explain the anger and the sadness that I had all at one time. Reporter: Overnight authorities finishing their search of plaza towers, also promising to search every home here, every building three times to make sure no one is forgotten. It came off and then I looked up and there was a tornado. I saw it twirling then I saw stuff swirling around. Hey. Reporter: But no more children discovered. Reuniting with their families. How did two schools take a direct hit, both buildings devastated and yet only one with a miracle ending? At briarwood elementary, everyone survived. When I was like -- I tried to get up and I tried to move the bricks off of my leg and it hurt so much and I was like -- and it was during -- and the tornado had not left yet. I was just screaming, help, my leg, my leg and no one could hear me. Reporter: Does that still ring in your ear, the children and what they were saying during all this? Yes, just crying, they want their moms and I can't even imagine not being able to give those kids back to their parents that brought them to me that morning. Reporter: Some of the teachers telling us they believe the construction of the schools played a role. At bwood each grade is organized into pods, a few classrooms in each building and in the middle of each pod an opening to the outdoors, windows and walls collapsed they climbed out through that opening over the rubble. Plaza towers elementary, a more traditional building. A long line of classrooms. When the roof, walls collapsed unlike the other school, there were no open spaces to crawl through. Tornado went in and out. I was so afraid, I was hanging on to one of the desks and i fell back and then all the dirt started getting in my eyes and on my clothes. Reporter: The brave children who got out and those two teachers I spoke with told me that there were no safe rooms in either of those schools, robin, and when authorities were pressed on that later, they did acknowledge that, in fact, fema has helped build safe rooms in schools across oklahoma but there's not funding for every school and these two did not have that funding. There will be a huge conversation in the weeks and months to come about how quickly they can get safe rooms in many more schools in this tornado

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