9 inspiring stories to come out of Oklahoma's tornado tragedy

The Week
Barbara Garcia's lost dog was found under the pile of rubble that was once her home.
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Barbara Garcia's lost dog was found under the pile of rubble that was once her home.

A rescued dog, heroic teachers, and more silver linings emerge from the devastation in Moore

There isn't much to cheer about after a massive tornado swept through Moore, Okla., killing at least 24 people and injuring 237 others. But that doesn't mean that Oklahomans are giving up.

In Moore and across the country, stories have emerged of people reuniting with their loved ones or taking an extra step to help out those affected by the Category 5 tornado. Here are nine of them:

1. Mother reunites with her 8-year-old son
After the storm hit, Trenda Purcell walked a mile to Briarwood Elementary School, which was destroyed in the tornado, to look for her 8-year-old son Kamden. A cameraman from The Oklahoman captured the reunion on tape:


2. Barbara Garcia finds her dog in pile of rubble
Moore resident Barbara Garcia was giving an interview with CBS News' Anna Werner when someone on the crew noticed something moving under the rubble. It turned out to be her lost dog, which she had assumed to be dead.

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"I thought God just answered one prayer, to let me be okay. He answered both of them. Because this was my second prayer," Garcia said after freeing her dog.

3. Teacher shields students with her body
Sixth-grade teacher Rhonda Crosswhite threw herself over two of her students when the tornado hit, trying to keep them calm as debris struck her back. She explained the scene to TODAY, followed by an emotional reunion with student Damian Britton and his mom:

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4. Kevin Durant makes a clutch donation
NBA star Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder didn't make it to the Western Conference Finals, but that doesn't mean he is done making an impact in his adopted state. The Red Cross tweeted that the 24-year-old Durant had donated $1 million for disaster relief. Durant, humble as always, didn't make a big deal out of it. Instead, he went on Twitter to ask others to donate as well:

@kdtrey5 steps forward and gives $1mil matching gift to the ARC for disaster relief, text "REDCROSS" to 90999 for a $10 donation.

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— Red Cross Oklahoma (@redcrossokc) May 21, 2013

Praying for the victims of the Tornadoes in OKC these last few days..Everybody stay safe!

— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) May 20, 2013

Text “REDCROSS” to 90999 for $10 donation to help tornado victims in #OKC #okwx

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— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) May 21, 2013

5. Dodgers' Matt Kemp remembers his Oklahoma roots
Matt Kemp might play for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he grew up Oklahoma, which is why he announced on Twitter that he is donating $1,000 to disaster relief for every home run he hits until the All-Star break:

I'm giving $1000 for tonight's HR and every HR until the All-Star break for the victims of my hometown in OKC. #PrayforOklahoma

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— Matt Kemp (@TheRealMattKemp) May 21, 2013

6. Couple escape tornado in bathtub with dog
A woman told CBS News' Elaine Quijano that she, her husband, and their dog were forced to ride out the storm in their bathtub because her husband's hip replacement surgery prevented him from evacuating before the storm. They were eventually rescued after the back of their house was ripped off by the tornado.

7. Kids sing out the storm
Once the tornado hit, staff members of the AgapeLand Learning Center rushed 15 children into the daycare center's two bathrooms, according to The New York Times. In the midst of chaos, the kids kept their cool by singing:

As the wind ripped the roof off one of the bathrooms, and debris rained down on the children, they remained calm, singing "You Are My Sunshine," the assistant director, Cathy Wilson, said. Though the day care center was almost entirely destroyed, the children were unharmed. "Not a child had a scratch," Ms. Wilson said. [New York Times]

8. Joplin, Mo., extends a helping hand
The citizens of Joplin, Mo., know what it's like to endure a tornado. Two years ago, 161 people were killed and a third of the city was leveled after a Category 5 tornado hit the city of 50,000. Now Joplin officials are assembling a team of police and firefighters to make the 225-mile journey to Moore.

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"We remember the amount of assistance that we received following the tornado two years ago, and we want to help others as they helped us," Mark Rohr, Joplin’s city manager, told The Kansas City Star.

9. Reddit helps reunite pets with their owners
Barbara Garcia isn't the only one who thought she lost her dog. The tornado scattered pets throughout Moore, and Reddit is on it. The subreddit /r/missingpetsinmoore was set up to connect owners with their lost animals, and has pictures of found dogs, cats, and even a horse, along with contact information.

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Reddit got a lot of bad press when users tried to play amateur detective during the Boston Marathon bombings. This time, the site is getting nothing but praise. As one redditor wrote, "I'm not from the area, but its amazing seeing people organize to help each other out. There's subs that make me rethink this site, but then I see things like this and I realize it's not all bad."

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