In an exclusive interview with Rock Center's Kate Snow, the principal and members of the faculty of Plaza Towers Elementary School describe the deadly tornado that turned their Oklahoma school into a debris field. The teachers recount the disaster that left seven students dead.
By Becky Bratu, Kate Snow, Tim Uehlinger and Jay Kernis, NBC News
As she tours the husk of Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla. -- the little that was left behind after a powerful tornado shredded everything in its 17-mile path -- Principal Amy Simpson thinks back to Monday morning, when her biggest task was helping the sixth-graders get ready for their graduation ceremony.
Pre-K teacher Linda Patterson and aide Kaye Johnson were working on report cards, while kindergarten teacher Erin Baxter was having her 6-year-old students write about the weather.
Four miles to the east, Susie Price began the last week of her 41-year career in public education preparing her retirement speech, getting ready for graduation -- and watching the sky for any possible threats.
“That’s what we do in Oklahoma on those days,” Pierce, the Moore Public Schools superintendent, told Rock Center’s Kate Snow.
Hours later, a Category EF5 tornado would touch down killing 24 people, injuring more than 370 and destroying as many as 13,000 houses.
Amy Simpson, the principal at Plaza Towers Elementary, remembers the seven students who died in the tornado that swept through the Oklahoma school. Rock Center's Kate Snow reports.
Sixteen minutes. That was how long Pierce had to prepare between the time she heard that a tornado had hit the ground and the time Moore was in the middle of it.
“It's not a lot of time,” she said. “But because I know these people and I know everybody that works in our district. … we've been through this before. I know that they know what to do.”
“This is part of our reality,” Pierce added.