(MOORE, Okla.) — Cellphone video recorded by an Oklahoma teacher at Briarwood Elementary School shows the exact moment an E-F5 tornado tore through the building as she attempted to calm students’ fears by telling them, “It’s almost over.”
Robin Dziedzic, a fifth-grade teacher at the school, huddled with students in a darkened bathroom Monday afternoon as the monstrous twister tore through Moore, Okla.
“This is where we walked down and I was right here,” Dziedzic said, pointing to the bathroom. “There were about 25 girls and several teachers.”
Students held on to each other as the devastating tornado ripped the roof from the building and brought down walls.
“Oh, my God, I hate this. I hate this,” a student says.
“It’s almost over. It’s almost over. Oh, my God,” Dziedzic can be heard saying to the student.
After the tornado passed, teachers and students emerged to survey the devastation and see what was left of their school a few days before their summer vacation was set to begin.
The teachers and students at Briarwood were considered fortunate compared to Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven children were killed, according to the medical examiner’s office. The cause of death for six of the seven children was “asphyxia” after being smothered by falling debris, the medical examiner’s office said Wednesday in a report.
One of those children from Plaza Towers Elementary School was 9-year-old Antonia Candelaria, who will be the first victim laid to rest Thursday.
Authorities also released the names of 23 of the 24 people confirmed dead, ranging in age from 4 months to 65.
Gov. Mary Fallin’s office said Wednesday evening that everyone has been accounted for and a total of 353 people sustained injures from the twister.
In the small town of Moore, where few people were sparred grief, the stories of survival are endless. While some hunkered down in a school bathroom or in a bank vault, others took shelter in their homes.
Sarah and Shane Patterson saved and struggled to buy their home in Moore three years ago, which was taken away in seconds by winds estimated at more than 200 mph. As Sarah Patterson toured the devastation, she found the shoes she was wearing when the tornado hit.
“It took them off my feet. The suction in the house pulled them off my feet,” she said.
A few mementos of her childhood were left behind such as doll.
“It’s a doll my great-grandmother made me when I was a baby,” she said. “My mom would be happy to know it’s here.”
Along with the doll, Patterson was able to salvage a few pictures of her sons — 9-year-old Lucas and 7-year-old Noah — who huddled underneath a mattress in the home and prayed as the twister roared through.
“I was praying as hard as I could. And my boys, I said, ‘Pray, guys. Just pray,’” Patterson said. “I don’t know how we made it.”
The Pattersons say they will rebuild in Moore, but with one major addition, a safe room.
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