Amid the devastation, chaos. Shining through the chaos, hope.
Raw footage from the scene at Briarwood Elementary, one of two Oklahoma City-area schools severely hit by Monday's massive tornado, captures the emotional reunion of two neighbors in the storm's aftermath.
Dressed in a red shirt, first responder Jim Routon, 47, of Moore, Okla., embraces Hezekiah Darbon, 6, after the EF5 tornado ripped through Briarwood, destroying the school building. The jarring video, aired by KFOR, shows adults scrambling to find children after the storm.
“When we got to the school it was pretty much chaos and destruction,” Routon told ABC's "Good Morning America." "People were just running in all directions, trying to find their children... I think I needed that hug as much as he [Hezekiah] did."
Although there were a few minor injuries, miraculously, no fatalities were reported at Briarwood Elementary, according to Oklahoma's News 9. A school spokesman told the station that students and faculty took shelter in hallways and under desks moments before the tornado struck.
But tragedy struck just miles away, as Plaza Towers Elementary School was leveled by the storm. Seven children died at Plaza Towers after the school took a direct hit from the tornado, Reuters reported Tuesday.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
05/23/2013 12:46 PM EDT
Oklahoma Governor: Missing Have Been Accounted For
All people thought missing have been accounted for at this time.— Governor Mary Fallin (@GovMaryFallin) 2 years ago
05/23/2013 12:43 PM EDT
Oklahoma Governor Posts Update
Updated fatalities, deaths and missing persons:
The 5/20 tornado has lead to:
24 deaths.— Governor Mary Fallin (@GovMaryFallin) 2 years ago
05/23/2013 6:26 AM EDT
Volunteer Shows Dedication To Helping Tornado Victims, Rescuers
Shaunta Strong has worked 2 days straight. Making sandwiches for victims & first responders. twitter.com/KatyJBlakey/st…— Katy Blakey (@KatyJBlakey) May 23, 2013
05/23/2013 5:41 AM EDT
Storm Lights Up Skies Above Moore
05/23/2013 4:58 AM EDT
Rough Weather Forecast To Hit Tornado-Ravaged Region
05/23/2013 2:05 AM EDT
Okla. Mom Recalls Being In Labor During Tornado
While the Moore Medical Center crumbled around her on Monday afternoon, Shay-la Taylor was in labor with her second baby boy.
The mom-to-be knew about the severe weather watch as she checked into the hospital to be induced at 9 a.m. that morning, but says she wasn’t really nervous.
“We’re used to tornadoes and sirens,” the 25-year-old mom told HuffPost in a phone interview. “If you freaked out every time you heard a siren, you’d have an anxiety attack every May in Oklahoma.”
Click here to read the rest of her tale.
--Farah L. Miller
05/23/2013 12:47 AM EDT
Sheriff's Department Offers View Inside Plaza Towers Elementary
05/22/2013 11:37 PM EDT
California Cupcakery Holds Fundraising Event For Oklahoma
Sprinkles Cupcakes in Los Angeles plans to donate all of the proceeds from their (ever-popular) Red Velvet cupcake sold on May 22 to support Oklahomans affected by Monday's tornado.
"As a native Oklahoman with my parents and brother still living in Oklahoma City, I am especially heartbroken by this devastating tragedy," Charles Nelson, co-founder of Sprinkles, stated on Facebook.
For more, click here.
05/22/2013 11:07 PM EDT
PHOTO: Kevin Durant Tours Tornado-Ravaged Moore
Basketball player Kevin Durant viewed tornado-damaged homes in Moore, Okla., on Wednesday. The Oklahoma City Thunder star also donated $1 million to the American Red Cross for relief efforts. The Thunder later matched the $1 million donation. (Sue Ogrocki / AP)
05/22/2013 10:56 PM EDT
Mail Service Alternatives Offered In Storm-Damaged Areas
The post office branch in Moore, Okla., was one of the thousands of buildings damaged or destroyed by Monday's twister. To help residents impacted by the disaster, the US Postal Service is setting up mail service alternatives in the area, News9.com reported.
Some of the options being offered include held mail, portable post offices and delivery service through an alternative office nearby. Letter carriers will also attempt to deliver mail wherever possible.
Click here for more.