Oklahoma Tornado: Stories of Survival and Hope

Families reunited after a monster tornado leveled Moore, Okla., killing at least 24 people.
9:44 | 05/21/13

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Transcript for Oklahoma Tornado: Stories of Survival and Hope
It was a normal Monday afternoon in the town of Moore Oklahoma. Then a super tornado over a mile wide -- to a vast expanse of homes hospitals and schools. Killing dozens and injuring countless more. And tonight emergency crews continue their desperate search for those lost within the rubble. As survivors complain to -- ABC's David -- -- has more David. Cynthia good evening from Oklahoma were search teams worked right up through nightfall they have promised to go through every home and every one of these destroyed neighborhoods. Three times before giving up on anyone they even were searching in that school but no new discoveries. What we have learned overnight though is that that tornado was much more powerful than anyone originally thought. Obviously for -- violent tornado I've received by far. The monstrous tornado that ripped -- seventeen -- -- through Oklahoma was needed stronger than first thought. It was a EF five twister the top of the scale suites topping 200 miles per hour the most powerful and deadly tornado there -- -- The storm left at least 44 people dead none of them children here in Moore Oklahoma. A bedroom community ten miles south of Oklahoma City as subtle Walt -- -- over the trees and -- other debris in the -- about it with our it was a well but it was the tornado that -- was it was pretty big town or is almost completely wiped out. It looked like a war zone. Just look -- bombs -- didn't. Ignited everywhere it was there's a car -- -- my bedroom you know. It's everything's fine you know just in a matter of thirty minutes your -- -- -- torn upside down. To date rescuers continued to dig for survivors. Promising to search every building every home three times they're not giving up on anyone -- stupid idea to find my F 150 pick. And I don't know where it says. And it was full size and 2007. -- kids who brokered. If -- do -- -- -- words but no survivors or bodies have been found since last night tragically the youngest and most vulnerable were also the hardest hit. Two elementary schools -- wood elementary in plaza towers elementary school were both in the direct path of the tornado. Children were instructed to stay in the school because it was safer and most were crouching in interior quarters hallways of the school with the buildings took a direct hit. Allison dying. An -- building and down we were told to get our tornado precautions and -- and their best to the back to the rising -- -- I. -- I think that yeah. Cracking -- -- This -- of the -- simply walking away from the prior wood elementary school has become an iconic image of the storm. The dotted Steve Cobb she with a badly bruised I at a bloodied face. Picking their -- up from school Jordan was -- her father's arms. Just. When pilots -- -- team can't happen I tried to promote her breaks off from my -- Her so much violence. And it was -- -- tornado had not left edge -- screaming help rather angry and I anywhere kicking me. Children like Jordan stunned by what they've survived. Teachers comforted their students as best they could. As frantic parents rushed to find your children amidst the rubble. And they are still team. New images of those first reunions -- -- trend and reunited with their son Camden who -- solving the arms of his teachers bleeding from his mother. -- -- -- -- elementary -- the plaza towers elementary school suffered different -- of the storm even though they're only a mile apart first Breyer would -- -- they all got out. Cindy -- teaches first grade she opened -- classroom door. Saw that tornado coming. I -- there was no turning back and then. It was coming if you saw it coming right -- it's coming right -- the school immediately. -- over -- and got on top the kids and this is not a drill here currently on the continent and get down get your heads covered. One of those children her own son. Her body on -- -- -- in several others. As they cried for their own moms they had desks covering them and chairs and tables and a teacher and teacher and -- teens -- -- -- another teacher urged her first graders to use their backpacks as shields. They were holding him back they were covered there they're covering ahead for their backpacks and. -- with the kids. I want -- Mrs. battle is this there's this really happening and -- screaming and crying it's formed a human chain but does he get other teachers yes. Yes just to get them up and over that debris. Their school destroyed two so how did the children get out when so many of the students at plaza towers did not. It'll believes the reason the student survived it rare wood is because the school is constructed differently each grade organized into -- a few classrooms in each building. And in the center of each of those buildings and opening to the outdoors it when everything collapsed she said they crawled out through that open area in the middle. Passing to children over the rubble. -- -- plaza towers a more traditional school building with a long -- of classrooms all under one roof. When it collapsed the roof the walls piling on top of what another there was no opening in the middle like those pods to -- -- from. The schools had practiced tornado drills but neither one -- -- fruits which experts say could have potentially save lives. We're in the process of learning as much as we can about what has happened and we are revealing our emergency procedures today. No matter how -- building is constructed by for the safest place to be in a tornado is underground. As Jason was -- discovered he shot this video to funnel cloud right before he headed to a storm cellar. His wife and four children already there waiting for him. Inside he shows -- to -- a completely underground Anita -- crazy. Bull walls barely enough room for the family. It when he walked back up those stairs he emerged to this scene total destruction -- home gone. And listened to was calm reaction. To his camera roll with the lord give them the -- -- -- today he showed -- where is barely survived. This here. Underground and what's the sound just -- kind of a roar. And I think that coming up the -- little little frightened that he displaced new house was gone before -- even open that hatch. -- public warning the children their home was no longer every landmark what's gone the trees are gone. It looked like and it'll bite my property here -- my neighborhood. Completely wiped off the -- Dallas pretty much wipe off the map we have a few pieces standing and our house some closets are standing so. -- theater some clothes we can salad cooler than that it's its definitely total. Jason this year was one of the lucky ones although his home was destroyed neither he nor his family was hurt. Hundreds of other people and we're not as lucky. Moore Oklahoma is in the -- of what is -- tornado Alley swath of states from South Dakota to Texas that are prone to these storms during peak tornado season in May and June. Very large -- about. -- alive maybe half mile -- -- that this is the second time or Oklahoma has been hit like this court on May third 1999 another EF five tornado touched down at the very same place. 36 people were killed. The chances of another storm hitting again into the small town with the exact same path minuscule. But it happened simply a huge tornado but eagle began at 240 local time Monday afternoon when the first tornado warning went out. Sixteen minutes later the massive EF five tornado emerging from the skies over Oklahoma. -- my job -- local news reporters accustomed to seeing funnel clouds were stunned by the tornado's destructive power oh my -- Oh my gosh I don't know if people lived and Allen even -- Storm Chasers with terror -- in -- right now and. In an instant hundreds of homes and buildings obliterated. The enormity of the storm prompted a swift -- -- -- last night President Obama declaring the region a major disaster area making federal funding immediately available. Today he spoke of the White House. The people of more. Should know that their country -- remain. On the ground. There for them. Beside them as long as it takes that federal response was already visible on the ground the director of FEMA spending today in Oklahoma. This unfortunate that we are -- once again seeing what tornadoes can do. But you're also seeing what the investment and public safety and the commitment training exercise does when disaster does strike. -- Oklahoma National Guard was called to help with the search and rescue effort using night vision goggles to continue to searched long into the night. But there is little to be done at this point but to -- the lives lost. -- a community now starting to rebuild. An on the issue of safe rooms we now know that there was not a safe from an either one of these schools. Authorities say FEMA has helped to fund the building of safe rooms in schools across Oklahoma. But they also pointed out that there is not enough funding to build one in every school. These two schools were not on the list.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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