McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

November 20, 2013

Revisiting the path of destruction

MOORE — Driving down 19th Street in Moore, people who have never visited the city may have a hard time seeing how much the city has changed in the last six months. From the I-35 exit going south, thriving businesses can be seen.

Even as you make a right turn onto Eagle Drive, several houses were left untouched as was the church, which sits on the corner.

But, as you drive deeper into the neighborhood, the brutal reality hits like a punch in the face. The ground where Plaza Elementary School once stood is now barren land. That is, except for a row of crosses outside a construction fence to memorialize the seven school children who were killed as they waited unsuspectingly for a storm to pass.

The crosses, which have photos, teddy bears, toys and trinkets attached to them, are a reminder of what was lost that fateful May 20th afternoon when the city of Moore was changed forever by an EF-5 tornado that paved a path of destruction from one end of the city to the other.

“I think that it puts things in perspective,” Jeff Brickman said. “Unfortunately, you tend to forget those things after a couple of weeks. Every once in a while I will think back to that day and it kind of helps put things in perspective. About what’s really important and what’s not.”

At 3:01 p.m. May 20, a tornado emergency was issued for Moore and south Oklahoma City. Within minutes, the tornado sliced 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.

In the days that followed, help from around the globe flowed into Moore. Whether it was to rebuild infrastructure, house residents who lost their homes or provide food and comfort, the outpouring of support was impactful.

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