Neighbor recalls devastation at Plaza Towers Elementary

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Plaza Towers Elementary School memorial
Plaza Towers Elementary School memorial
Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 11/20/2013 4:57 pm Published: 11/20/2013 4:56 pm

Six months ago Wednesday, 24 people were killed and more than 300 injured in one of the worst tornadoes in United States history.

Moore, Okla., was devastated by an EF-5 tornado. Neighborhoods were leveled and so was Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven third-graders were among those killed by the tornado.

The memorials for the children are still in place, but a new school is being built; the neighborhood around the school is also being rebuilt.

"It was terrifying," said Ronny Butler.

Butler lives three blocks from the school. He was at work when the tornado tore through.

"It took me three hours just to get home to check to see if my house was still here and if my dogs were still OK," he said.

He had to walk 6 miles to see his house was still standing, but badly damaged. His dogs were alive and well.

"Just blessed, just blessed to still have the home to come to," he said.

On the way, he had to walk past Plaza Towers.

"It was just chaos everywhere. I was terrified for the children. I mean, the parents and stuff there. I mean, I don't have any kids, little kids, but it was scary," he said.

He and his wife stayed with a friend while the repairs began.

"Three months, and that was still -- it was not even finished. I mean, we had no windows. We wanted to be home, so we just made do with what we had," he said.

Since then, the rebuilding process at home in the neighborhood has moved along.

"Tremendously, I mean, there's new homes going up everywhere in the neighborhood and stuff. And so it's nice to see," he said.

But there's still a long way to go.

"A year or two. I don't know. Maybe when the school's done, back and working again," he said.

Plaza Towers is expected to be finished and ready for students to come back by August of next year.

The new building will have a storm shelter, as well.

Butler is also putting a storm shelter in his home, but he said it will be months before he gets it because so many people here have ordered them, companies can't keep up.

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