May 23 - A nine-year-old student tells how he survived the tornado which reduced his school to rubble. Rough cut - no reporter narration.
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION Tornado survivors thanked God, sturdy closets and luck in explaining how they lived through the colossal twister that devastated an Oklahoma town and killed 24 people, an astonishingly low toll given the extent of destruction. Outside the wreckage where Briarwood Elementary School once stood in Moore, Oklahoma, nine-year-old Garret Hunnan said his teachers helped him survive the monster storm. "I was - my teacher said, 'everything was going to be all right.' I didn't believe her. I was just really scared. I was scared. And then the tornado hit. I just let everything hit me. I got a little bump in the back of my head. I'm just fine, and so, I got out. We went through the bathrooms, and then, there's this open window. Our reading teacher found us a little desk, and there's a pile of rubble coming right up to it, so we can get out," Hunnan said Wednesday (May 22). The tornado which struck Monday (May 20) packed winds exceeding 200 miles per hour (320 kph). It flattened entire blocks, and demolished two schools and a hospital on its 17-mile (27-km), 50-minute rampage through central Oklahoma. Of the 24 people killed, 10 were children, including seven who died at Plaza Towers Elementary School. About 240 others were injured, emergency management officials said. The youngest victim was 4 months old, the oldest was 63. Authorities had said six people were unaccounted for early on Wednesday, but later in the day said all the missing had been found. Five of the six were alive, and the sixth was dead but had already been included in the tornado's death toll of 24, Moore's Police Chief Jerry Stillings said. The Oklahoma governor had said earlier in the day that the number of injured was more than 320, but emergency officials later said the total was unchanged at 237. President Barack Obama was due to survey the damage on Sunday, a White House spokesman said. The cleanup continued Wednesday with an eye toward the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend. More than 500 people showed up to clear debris from the biggest cemetery in Moore so that Memorial Day services can be held there as usual, Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis said.