Athens Review, Athens, Texas

May 21, 2013

Too close to home

Native Athenian in Moore, Okla.: ‘It's like a war zone’

Jayson Larson
The Athens Review

MOORE, Okla. — It was the kind of moment any parent would dread.

The tornado sirens had just sounded in Norman, Okla., sending the city ducking for cover on Monday. At the real estate office where she works, Athens native Kim Moody Miller was scrambling for safety and unable to stop thinking about her 16-year-old daughter Logan — who was taking cover with her fellow students in a cavernous locker room beneath the Moore High School gym about seven miles away.

Kim, a 1990 Athens High School graduate who now lives in Moore, kept up with her daughter via text message as her husband, Brad, sped to the school to pick Logan up.

“I love you,” Logan, a junior, texted at one point. “It’s gonna hit us.”

The tornado — which reportedly was two miles wide — didn’t slam into the high school. Instead, it sidewinded its way to nearby Plaza Towers Elementary and leveled it. Accounts reporting the number of confirmed dead have been inconsistent, but numerous outlets have reported seven children died at the elementary school.

Mr. Miller was finally able to weave his way through the debris, heavy traffic and emergency personnel to pick Logan up from the school around 6:15 p.m.

The Millers’ home wasn’t damaged, but so many others they know weren’t as fortunate.

“I’m so blessed and fortunate — I have my child home,” said Mrs. Miller, who has family in Athens and Corsicana. “It was just total chaos. It’s like a war zone here. It’s horrible. The pictures you’re seeing just don’t tell it ... It’s just everything.”

As Mr. Miller worked his way to the school, he snapped several photographs of the damage. In one, an enormous power pole is shown after falling on the roadway, blocking traffic. In another, some kind of structure is shown pulverized into broken slats of wood.

“When it took off,” Mrs. Miller said of the tornado, “it just grinded and it never stopped.”

Mrs. Miller said the Moore tornado did what many do — completely demolishing some structures while leaving neighboring buildings untouched. For example, a park honoring veterans was completely destroyed, she said, but three statues commemorating soldiers from different generations inside the park were untouched.

Also untouched was a small group of former Athenians who, like Mrs. Miller, now live in Moore and the surrounding area. Mrs. Miller said she has been in touch with many of those former Athenians, contacting them through Facebook to make sure they are OK.

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DONATIONS SOUGHT FOR MOORE, OKLA.: Extreme Auctions of Athens has announced it will be accepting donations for the people of Moore, Okla., today and tomorrow until 5 p.m. at its location (1543 West Corsicana Street).

Robert Covert with Extreme Auctions said any items that would be useful for the storm victims will be accepted, including blankets, non-perishable food items, bottled water, hygiene products, clothing, etc.

Extreme Auctions, which has been in contact with the Moore Police Department, said it will deliver the items personally after it has filled its three trucks and trailers.

For more information, call 903-203-9500 or 972-322-1999.