Before and after: Moore, Okla. schools destroyed by EF5 tornado - New York News

Before and after: Moore, Okla. schools destroyed by EF5 tornado

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Plaza Towers Elementary (before) Plaza Towers Elementary (before)
Plaza Towers Elementary (after) Plaza Towers Elementary (after)
MOORE, Okla. (WJBK) -

A before and after look at two Moore, Okla. schools leveled by Monday's deadly tornado show the storm's destructive power.

At Plaza Towers Elementary, the storm ripped off the roof, knocked down walls and destroyed the playground as students and teachers huddled in hallways and bathrooms.

Seven of the nine dead children were killed at the school, but several students were pulled alive from under a collapsed wall and other heaps of mangled debris.

Before: Plaza Towers (Google)


After: Plaza Towers


At Briarwood Elementary, photos courtesy of Google Maps show massive destruction.

Neither school had reinforced storm shelters, or safe rooms, said Albert Ashwood is director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

Before: Briarwood Elementary (Google)


After: Briarwood Elementary


Ashwood said a shelter would not necessarily have saved more lives at Plaza Towers.

"When you talk about any kind of safety measures ... it's a mitigating measure, it's not an absolute," he told reporters. "There's not a guarantee that everyone will be totally safe."

The National Weather Service said the tornado had winds of at least 200 mph and was on the ground for 40 minutes.

The agency upgraded the tornado to an EF5 from an EF4 on the enhanced Fujita scale based on reports from a damage-assessment team, said spokeswoman Keli Pirtle. Monday's twister was at least a half-mile wide. It was the nation's first EF5 tornado of 2013.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report

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