Amid the tragic stories that emerged following the tornado that devastated the town of Moore, Oklahoma on Monday afternoon were a number of heroic tales of teachers comforting and protecting their students at great personal risk during the terrifying storm. CNN reports on Plaza Towers Elementary School, which suffered the loss of 7 students:
"It was scary," student Julio Rodriguez told CNN. Teachers instructed the kids to crouch down, "and you covered your head with your hands," he demonstrated.
The school quickly became the epicenter of the tragedy in this shattered town, part of the metropolitan Oklahoma City area.
First responders and volunteers rushed to the scene to begin the treacherous work of searching for survivors.
"We had to pull a car off a teacher and she had three little kids underneath her," one first responder, in tears, told KFOR. "Good job, teach."
"I was on top of six kids," one sixth grade teacher said, working her way across the rubble. "I was lying on top. All of mine are OK."
Teachers helped tear through several feet of rubble to rescue sobbing students, some of them injured.
Rescue teams successfully pulled several kids from the leveled school.
But with each passing hour, the hope began to fade.
Crews continued their search around the clock, rummaging through nearly 40 feet of rubble, CNN affiliate KOKH reported.
Some students were fortunate -- they got out of the school before the tornado struck.
Officials had managed to bus some children to a nearby church, which turned out to be clear of the tornado's direct path, KFOR reported.