On the day before the one-year anniversary of the storm that barreled through Newcastle, Moore, and Shawnee, two women stood looking through a chain-link fence at the still under construction Plaza Towers elementary school.
Those ladies are Kimberly Martinez, and Nicky McCurtain, 4th grade teachers at Plaza Towers.
Both were in the building last May 20th when the buzz saw EF5 tornado hit.
“It was kind of a normal morning, but the afternoon felt kind of scary. It was very, very creepy, very eerie" Nicky McCurtain told KRMG news.
Both women said the call to shelter in place came at “about two o’clock.” We had a teacher who had cell phone reception,” Nicky began. “Mr. Ayers stepped outside the back door and saw it coming, he was telling us ‘it’s here, it’s here,” Martinez added.
We threw ourselves over as many kids as we could, and we just prayed out loud and screamed and asked God to save us that day, Kimberly said.
Those prayers were answered moments later.
“When it was over, I remember looking up and the whole roof was gone, but we had all four of our walls standing,” Martinez noted.
Seven feet of debris had them trapped in the bathroom where they hunkered down, when they were able to come out, what they saw shocked them.
“That’s when it got really scary” Nicky said, choking back tears. “The third graders were not coming out, and we were waiting for the teachers to come out. It was very emotional and scary.”
Seven of those 3rd graders didn’t come out. They drowned in storm water while trapped by debris.
Nicky and Kimberly are looking forward to the new school and the memorial that will be placed outside.
They think it will serve to honor those who died, and show the spirit and resilience of this town and state.
“We have to do this” Nicky commented. “Those children are never going to be forgotten. It’s not going to be a graveyard.
It's going to be a remembrance of who those kids were because they were all so sweet, and so fun.”
Nicky paused, then turned and looked at the school before finishing. “They were wonderful.
See before and after video from the same spot in Moore below.