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Moore Principals, Teachers Share Heart-Wrenching Stories At News Conference

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The EF-5 tornado tore apart Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary schools as teachers tried to protect their students. The EF-5 tornado tore apart Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary schools as teachers tried to protect their students.
MOORE, Oklahoma -

Principals and teachers at elementary schools hardest hit by Monday's monster storm describe the horrifying events of that day.

The EF-5 tornado tore apart Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary schools as teachers tried to protect their students. The heroism of those two principals and all the teachers and staff is indescribable. They risked their lives to save children as that massive tornado came directly toward the schools. 

Complete Coverage: May 2013 Tornado Outbreak

"The rest of the evening was a nightmare. What started off as a normal day at Plaza Towers, turned into a horrible, horrible day for seven families," said Plaza Towers Elem. Principal, Amy Simpson.

Minutes before the tornado hit, kids at Plaza Towers lined up against both sides of a hallway, covering their heads with their hands. At Briarwood Elementary a teachers-aide took pictures of first graders huddled under their desks, many thinking this was only a drill. No one knew of the destruction ahead.

"Our kids practice this so much, that the fear wasn't there at that time," said Simpson. "They were just in their procedures. They were just practicing their procedures."

"It was getting bigger, and bigger, and I remember thinking, this looks like the May 3, 1999 tornado, and I was thinking, okay, here we go again," said Briarwood Elem. Principal, Shelley McMillin.

McMillin told teachers this was not a drill and to take cover immediately.

"As many kids as I could grab that were beside me, you just tucked them in, and just sat there and told them, ‘keep your head down', ‘keep your head down, everything is going to be okay,'" said Briarwood 4th grade teacher, Theresa Mosier. "And we prayed, I prayed, those kids were praying and crying. Petrified."

"Bricks started falling on our heads, lights, roofing material, insulation, beams, sinks were flying and falling," said Plaza Towers Elem. 5th grade teacher, Justin Ayers.  

Ayres was the first to see the tornado heading straight for Plaza Towers.

"I went on the intercom, and I said, ‘It's here,'" said Simpson.

Simpson and several others took shelter in the bathroom as the storm passed.

"In the bathroom, people were quiet, people were screaming, and at that point, I believe that's the only time, that I yelled, and I said, ‘In God's name, go away, go away,'" said Simpson. "I said it about four times, and then it was gone."

Family and friends gathered to remember two of the children from Plaza Towers, 8-year-old Kyle Davis and 9-year-old Nicholas McCabe Friday. Seven children were killed at the elementary school.

Schools across Moore, including Briarwood and Plaza Towers Elementary, received more than $45-million in storm damages. 

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