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Oklahoman Modified: May 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm •  Published: May 21, 2013
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MOORE — An eerie silence settled over the destruction in Moore on Tuesday as National Guard troops and law enforcement officers blocked people from entering the tornado debris zone so search teams could do their jobs.


Meanwhile, in south Oklahoma City, police began letting residents return to their homes so they could see what is left.

Tales of terror and heroism continued to emerge Tuesday.

Amber Harris, 31, said she rushed to Moore's Plaza Towers Elementary School just minutes before the tornado struck, gathered up 10 children and took them to a storm shelter.

“I told the kids before we got out that we're a strong family and if we lose our home, we're going to make it,” Harris said, adding that five of the children were her own, three were her foster children and two were children of her best friend.

Harris said her home was badly damaged.

“Right now, I'm devastated. It's just so much to take in — trying to be strong for my family,” she said. “Our kids will be pretty hurt by the time they realize what's going on. We have to deal with it one day at a time.”

Second-grade teacher Annette Brown was with schoolchildren in the rest room and hallways of Briarwood Elementary School for about 20 minutes Monday before the ceiling collapsed, pinning them to the ground.

Metal beams and cinder blocks crushed her. She held the hand of her son — a student at the school — the whole time, despite losing feeling in her arms. She said her thoughts were on the children and keeping them calm.

“I thought we were going to die,” Brown said.

She said the children were “surprisingly calm.” First responders pulled them from the rubble.

“I'm just thankful that we made it,” she said. “We had guardian angels for sure. There's no way we could've made it without guardian angels.”

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