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Oklahoma Tornado

A massive tornado struck a suburb of Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon causing wide spread damage and destruction.

At least four people have died as a result of the severe weather.

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A family who lost their home in the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma is now dealing with another tragedy.

A five-year-old boy who was staying with family friends in Jessieville, Arkansas was killed by a dog last Sunday.

The bullmastiff, which was later put down, weighed more than 150-pounds.

Oolice say before the attack the boy was crying and upset, which the dog may have taken as aggressive behavior.

The boy and his two-year old sister were staying with the family while their parents tried to re-build their home in Oklahoma.

At least 12 deaths, and more than a hundred injuries have been reported across the Midwest over the weekend.

That number includes seven adults and two children killed in Oklahoma.

Three deaths in Missouri have also been blamed on heavy flooding.

Forecasters say the storms will shift to the east Sunday, from Virginia through Maine.

The National Weather Service said none of the recent tornadoes were as powerful as the EF5 tornado that killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma on May 20th.

The storms also knocked out power for thousands of people in Illinois, Missouri,  Arkansas, Kansas and Indiana.

You can adopt some of the dogs and cats that were rescued from shelters in Oklahoma after that devastating tornado.

After last week’s storms, pets that were separated from their owners began arriving to shelters in Oklahoma City.

Organizers say animals that were already at the shelter needed a new place to go, and that’s where PAWS Chicago stepped in.

In all, 51 dogs and cats were brought to Chicago from Oklahoma.

Adoptions were from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, at PAWS Chicago on Clybourn.

The pets that were left homeless will have to stay 30 days at the shelters in Oklahoma to wait to be claimed.

After that, they’ll be up for adoption as well.

In Little Village, the work at the PAWS Chicago clinic welcomed 76 new comers: 51 dogs and 25 cats, all brought in overnight from Oklahoma.

After last week’s tornado, pets who were separated from their owners began arriving to Oklahoma City shelters.  Those who were already there needed a new place to go.

Over the weekend, a dedicated team travelled by caravan from Chicago to Oklahoma City to help the shelter there.

“They took in over 150 pets over a very short period of time,” said volunteer  Laura Slivka.  “So what we did is we went down and transferred and saved the lives of 75 who otherwise would have been euthanized because they have to make space for the ones coming in from the disaster. “

Tomorrow, another caravan will travel from the PAWS Chicago adoption center in Lincoln Park.

Adoptions are from 11 a.m.  to 6 p.m. tomorrow at PAWS Chicago on Clybourn.  About 50 of the rescued animals will be available at that time. The rest still need to be checked out by vets before being cleared.

Also, the pets who were left homeless after the storm will have 30 days at the Oklahoma shelter to wait to be claimed. After that time they will be up for adoption as well.

PAWS is planning another trip down there at that time to get more pets.

You can see the pets up for adoption at pawschicago.org

Oklahomans have the nation behind them as they struggle to bounce back from tornadoes that tore through the state last week, President Barack Obama said Sunday.

“As fellow Americans, we’re going to be there as shelter from the storm for the people of Moore who have been impacted,” he said. “And when we say that we’ve got your back, I promise you that we keep our word.”

The president described himself as a messenger speaking on behalf of the entire nation as he toured storm damage Sunday. He praised local officials, first responders and school principals for their work in the wake of the storms, which killed 24 people, injured more than 375 others and damaged 12,000 residences in and around the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.

“This area’s known more than its share of heartbreak, but people here pride themselves on the Oklahoma standard … being able to work through disasters like this and come out stronger on the other side,” he said.

Speaking in front of the wreckage of the destroyed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Obama called for Americans to donate to help storm relief efforts.

“It’s going to take a long time for this community to rebuild, so I want to urge every American to step up,” he said, suggesting donating via the American Red Cross website.

After his public remarks, Obama met with first responders at a Moore fire station.

“We got to talk to him after he saw the damage, and of course, once you see the damage, it’s different,” Moore Police Sgt. Jeremy Lewis told CNN affiliate KOCO. “No matter how many pictures you look at, you see it in person, it’s going to to change even the president, which it did.”

Obama vowed to keep helping the area rebuild, long after camera crews and reporters from around the country leave.

“He … let us know that after all the media and everything is gone, he’ll still be sending anything that we need,” Lewis said, “and he’ll make sure that we get the town built back up.”

It’s been a weekend of highs and lows for the tornado-ravaged area.

With some school buildings still in shambles, students received diplomas at a convention center on Saturday.

Funeral homes and churches were busy with services nearly a week after the devastating storm.

A public memorial and prayer service to honor the storm’s victims was scheduled for Sunday evening.

Saturday’s graduation festivities were infused by reminders of the storm’s tragic aftermath.

When Southmoore High’s Alyson Costilla walked across the stage to get her diploma, about a dozen people in the crowd stood and held up pictures of her mother, who died in a 7-Eleven ravaged by the powerful winds.

Transforming Moore back into the city it was won’t be easy. Its public schools alone suffered $45 million in damage, including the two elementary schools that were leveled. Insurance claims related to Monday’s storm will likely top $2 billion, according to Kelly Collins from the Oklahoma Insurance Department.

But residents aren’t doing it all alone.

Besides the presence of Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives and other public officials on the ground, they’ve had friends, relatives, even strangers come out to help.

Last week, Caleb Allison stared out at the mass of debris that covered the yard in front of his destroyed home.

“Who’s going to come get it?” the Westmoore High School Spanish teacher wondered.

“Even our insurance company said, ‘you could pay someone to do it, but it might take days before they can come out here,’” Allison told CNN.

But for Allison, what seemed like a mammoth problem was swiftly solved on Sunday with the help of a group of students, parent-teacher association members and fellow teachers from his school and Heritage Trails Elementary, where his wife teaches music.

“We probably had 70 to 80 people in our front yard,” he said, “and we cleaned it in a matter of 30 minutes.”

Morgan DeLong, one of the volunteers, said many whose homes survived the storm are eager to chip in.

“It’s kind of our turn to return that blessing and help people out. And it’s incredible to be around all the faculty members and other students,” she said. “It’s amazing to just look out and see how our community’s coming together.”

As Obama got a firsthand look at the debris left by the tornado, the state’s governor told CNN that her chief request for the federal government is help plowing through regulatory hurdles.

“Basically what I need is the ability to get through red tape, the ability to get the FEMA funds in here quickly and to get the services that our citizens need to help them recover through this terrible disaster,” Gov. Mary Fallin said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Fallin, a Republican, said the initial reaction from the federal government in assisting her state was fast and effective.

“So far we have had great response,” she said, quickly adding there was a long way to go before Moore returns to normal.

“This is a massive debris field. It’s not just a couple blocks,” she said. “It’s miles.”
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A Chicago group is showing support to the tornado’s four legged victims.

PAWS Chicago is sending a medical team and volunteers to Moore, Oklahoma tomorrow.

According to its website, the organization is anticipating to bring about 75 homeless, displaced and injured pets back to Chicago to take some of the burden off of the Oklahoma shelters.

The pets will stay in a Chicago shelter for 30 days, so their Oklahoma families still have time to find them.

Kyle Davis was 100% boy. He loved going with his grandpa to see Monster Trucks, and would hoot and clap whenever one of those giant things would roll over and crush a smaller car. Because he was a good kid and got A’s and B’s, his family would sometimes reward him with a trip to the lake and let him ride his four-wheeler around.

The 8-year-old was a force on the soccer field. His stocky build earned him a nickname: “The Wall.”

“Kids just bounced off of him,” Davis’ grandfather Marvin Dixon said Wednesday. “He just loved being with his Pawpaw and I loved being with him. I’m just going to miss him.”

Kyle was among 24 people who lost their lives Monday when a massive tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma, just outside Oklahoma City.

He was one of seven children who died at Plaza Towers Elementary School.

His parents called him ‘Hammy’

Talking to Marvin Dixon and Kyle’s grandmother, Sharon Dixon, it’s clear right away that you don’t have to ask any questions about the third-grader. So broken-hearted but so full of love and memories for their grandson, they just want to talk about him.

“I could talk to you all day about him because he was our son, too,” Sharon Dixon said. “He was always asking, ‘Can I stay at your house?’ We kept a nightlight on for him because he was afraid of the dark.”

“I’m going to miss his smile,” Marvin Dixon said. “It would melt your heart, but you also look at it and wonder, ‘Bud, what are you up to?’”

“Me and his mom started calling him Hambone and then Hammy because he liked being in front of the camera. I don’t think we ever did call him Kyle.”

Marvin Dixon dropped his grandson and granddaughter, Kaylee, 11, off at school Monday. Kaylee was struggling to lift her school project out of the car.

“Sissy, I’ll get this for you and take it in for you,” Kyle said.

“I told him that I thought that was a very gentlemanly thing to do,” Marvin Dixon recalled.

He told the kids, “OK, I’ll see you at 3. I love you.”

“I love you, too, Pawpaw,” Kyle answered.

Kaylee survived the twister that ripped the school apart around 3 p.m. She was in the main building, but Kyle and his classmates were hunkered down in another building, the Dixons said.

“It was just hailing, really coming down as that thing got closer and we got in the car,” Marvin said.

“The school was in lockdown. I would have gone to pick them up. I would have. I would have risked it, but I couldn’t. They wouldn’t let me get to him.”

The Dixons managed to outrun the tornado in their car. When they were able to turn around, traffic was backed up on the interstate. By this time, the Dixons had Kyle’s mother with them. They drove as close as they could to the school, about two miles away, then got out and began running toward it.

As they got closer, they could barely comprehend what they were seeing

“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” Marvin said. “My daughter was hysterical.”

Kaylee had somehow walked away from the devastation with a few bruises.

“We’re not angry at the school,” Marvin Dixon said. “But I want them to get something better for the next time because we can’t say this horrible thing won’t happen again. I want the kids to have a safer place to go in the future.”

Young girl was a ‘ball of love’

Angela Hornsby threw up her arms in frustration Monday as she sat at home watching a news anchor tell people to seek shelter underground. She doesn’t have a basement.

She wondered about her niece, Jenae Hornsby, a third-grader at Plaza Towers.

“I thought she was safe in school,” Hornsby said. But Jenae wasn’t. She died along with Kyle and their five other classmates.

Just last weekend, Hornsby’s 14-year-old daughter and Jenae and all of Jenae’s many cousins were at a park in Moore. They had just come from church. The girls were dressing up and joking around, wearing their aunt’s wig.

“They loved to dress up and dance to Beyonce, pretend they were Beyonce,” Angela Hornsby said. “They would tape each other with their phones and play it back.”

The 14-year-old is so upset about Jenae that she’s been throwing up and is at home in bed. “My daughter said to me, ‘I don’t want to sound crazy but maybe she’s gonna call me. Maybe Jenae’s not dead, Mom.’”

Angela doesn’t know how her brother — Jenae’s father, Joshua — is going to move forward.

Tuesday night, Joshua Hornsby, talking to CNN’s “AC360,” called his daughter “a ball of energy, a ball of love.”

“She was the best kid anybody could have,” he said.

He vowed to make “his baby proud and keep pushing on like I know she would want me to do.”

He never met a stranger

Christopher Legg “loved to play sports, and fight for justice,” an obituary posted on a cousin’s website said.

He also had been diagnosed with melanoma, skin cancer, and a condition that causes terrible knee pain.

The tough little 9-year old faced them with strength and enthusiasm, just as he lived his life.

“You were always always a friend in his eyes,” the tribute said.

He was a well-rounded athlete, playing baseball, basketball and football. He also like to wrestle, to roughhouse with his Dad, his older brother and a sister.

Christopher, a third-grader, died at Plaza Towers Elementary.

Her mother was everything

Angeletta Santiago is struggling this week, too. Her mother, Tawuana Robinson, died in the storm.

“To lose her to something so devastating … it hurts,” Santiago told CNN affiliate KSDK.

Her mother called her just as the tornado was bearing down on her.

“She said ‘yes, the tornado has touched down. I am in my closet,’” Santiago recalled. “I love you.”

Robinson lived a block from Plaza Towers Elementary School. The phone line went dead.

Santiago tried to call her mother back but couldn’t get through. After hours passed, she went on Facebook and searched victim websites.

“I had hope and I prayed,” she said.

“I had a friend in my mother. I had a mother in my mom. I had a sister in my mom. I had everything a girl could want in a mom,” she said.

“My heart goes out to everybody … the babies, the mothers who will never be able to see their children again. I hope you’re healing.”

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What began as a desperate hunt for survivors in this debris-covered city is giving way to an arduous road to recovery.

No survivors or bodies have been found in Moore since Monday, the day a mammoth tornado ripped through 17 miles of central Oklahoma and pummeled 2,400 homes.

The mayor of Moore, which bore the brunt of the tornado’s wrath, said he doesn’t expect the death toll to climb any higher. At least 24 people, including nine children, were killed, the state medical examiner’s office said.

“I think that will stand,” Mayor Glenn Lewis said.

Earlier reports of at least 51 deaths were erroneous, said Amy Elliot of the state medical examiner’s office. She said some of the dead were apparently counted twice during the chaotic aftermath of the twister.

But some loved ones are still missing.

Cassandra Jenkins has no idea what happened to her grandparents, more than a day after the twister struck their hometown of Moore.

“All we know is that their home is still left standing. However, they have not been seen or heard from since the storm hit,” she said as her daughters clutched photos of their great-grandparents.

“We’ve tried to locate them at every hospital, every shelter, every Red Cross. Anything we could possibly reach out to, we have.”

While the mayor of Moore said he doesn’t think the death toll will rise, each passing hour brings more sobering news about the catastrophe.

About 2,400 homes were damaged or destroyed in Moore and Oklahoma City, a spokesman for Oklahoma Emergency Management said late Tuesday night. The twister directly affected roughly 10,000 residents, Jerry Lojka said.

The financial impact will also be monumental. Insurance claims will probably top $1 billion, said Kelly Collins of the Oklahoma Insurance Commission.

Young lives remembered

One of the most heartbreaking scenes in Moore is the pile of wreckage where Plaza Towers Elementary School once stood.

Seven of the nine children killed in the storm were inside the school when it collapsed.

Ja’Nae Hornsby, 9, was one of them.

“There’s no other kid like her,” Ja’Nae’s aunt Angela Hornsby said. “She’s the sweetest thing, the bossiest thing, the most fun, always trying to make us laugh.”

Ja’Nae’s father, Joshua Hornsby, isn’t ready to accept that his little girl is gone.

“I’m still hoping for that call to say, ‘We’ve made a mistake,’ ” he said. “I just pray that’s what it is.”

Destruction on a colossal scale

Damage assessments Tuesday showed the tornado packed winds over 200 mph at times, making it an EF5 — the strongest category of tornadoes measured, the National Weather Service said.

Lewis said the devastation was so catastrophic that city officials rushed to print new street signs to help guide rescuers and residents through the newly mangled and unfamiliar landscape.

The rescue workers in Moore included police and firefighters from Joplin, Missouri — a city all too familiar with grief and devastation.

Wednesday marks the second anniversary of the tornado that pulverized Joplin, killing at least 158 people. It was the deadliest single U.S. tornado since federal record-keeping began in 1950.

“We remember the amount of assistance that we received following the tornado two years ago, and we want to help others as they helped us,” Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr said.

“We know too well what their community is facing, and we feel an obligation to serve them as they have served us.”

‘Still can’t believe this’

Some residents of Moore ventured back to where their homes once stood, only to find unrecognizable scraps of their lives.

“You just wanna break down and cry,” Steve Wilkerson said, his voice trembling.

He held a laundry basket that contained the few intact belongings he could find.

“I still can’t believe this is happening. You work 20 years, and then it’s gone in 15 minutes.”

Teachers lauded for saving students

Amid the trauma and grief, tales of heroism and gratitude sprouted up across Moore.

Several teachers at Briarwood Elementary shielded their students with their bodies or distracted them with impromptu games as they took cover from the tornado that demolished their school.

Suzanne Haley was impaled by the leg of a desk while protecting her students.

“We crowded the children under desks, and me and a fellow teacher put ourselves in front of the desks that the children were under,” she told CNN’s Piers Morgan.

The roof and walls collapsed around them as the tornado’s fury enveloped the school. The leg of the desk pierced her right calf, jutting out on both sides.

“By the grace of God, I kept it together,” she said. “I couldn’t go into hysterics in front of my children, in front of the other students. I had to be calm for them.”

Miraculously, everyone at Briarwood survived.

While many describe the teachers as heroes, Haley dismisses the title.

“It’s nothing anybody wouldn’t do,” she said. “These children — we see their smiles, their tears, every day, in and out, and we love them.”

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Photographer of The Oklahoman newspaper Paul Hellstern talks about capturing the devastation caused by an almost two-mile wide tornado.

A group of comfort dogs from the Chicago area is among the volunteers in Oklahoma to help soothe people traumatized by the tornado.

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