Miraculous survival of girl, 10, who escaped devastated school to rescue her father buried under their collapsed home

By Daniel Bates In Oklahoma


A girl of 10 told today how she survived the tornado which tore apart her school in Moore, Oklahoma, and then saved her father from her flattened home.

Monica Palmore said that she hid under her desk with her maths book over her head at Plaza Towers Elementary school as her teacher screamed over the intercom: ‘Everybody in the tornado position!’

Her mother Diana came to get her and they ran into a bathroom cubicle and were lifted up into the air as they looked into the sky and saw the tornado swirling debris and trees high above their head – sending cars crashing through the walls of the building.

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Escape: Diana Palmore's daughter Monica was at Plaza Tower elementary when the tornado struck and returned home to help save her father from their flattened home

Escape: Diana Palmore's daughter Monica was at Plaza Towers Elementary when the tornado struck and returned home to help save her father from their flattened home

Moore: A fire burns in Moore following Monday's tornado

Moore: A fire burns in Moore following Monday's tornado

Mrs Palmore and Monica ran home two blocks away and found their house flattened and realized that dad Pete, 31, was buried in the wreckage as he had been hiding in the closet under the stairs.

Monica heard his screaming for help and directed a crowd who pulled him out moments before he would have suffocated from the weight of the wood on his chest.

Mrs Palmore, 33, a restaurant manager at McDonald’s, lived two blocks from Plaza Heights Elementary where seven children are confirmed dead and drove there to help when she heard the sirens.

Also at the school was her other son Lavontey, 12, whilst Mr Palmore, 31, a postman, stayed at home.

Monica said: ‘We heard the sirens and we thought we were going to get to go home but the teacher came over the intercom and said: ‘Everybody get in the tornado position!’

‘We ducked down and she told us to put our maths books over our heads.  We went in the hallway, my mum came and we went in the hallway by my brother. We went in the bathroom.

‘It was scary. We heard…it was shaking the school, I looked up and saw the tornado swirling. I looked up and we saw cars. We could see it going around and around.

Mrs Palmore said: ‘We saw it. We were there, the wind. It lifted us up a bit. There was a trash can right next to me and a pole and we me and some mums and teachers were on top of the kids, so we would get hurt and not the kids.

Homeless: The family no face the long process of rebuilding after losing their home

Homeless: The family no face the long process of rebuilding after losing their home

‘After it passed the wires and the metal stuff that holds in the room fell on me. My neck and my back hurts. I can’t even walk I’m so sore.’

‘There were 12 kids missing but out of those seven died because the cars went in the school. There were cars in the parking lot and they went inside the school. The wind picked up the cars and threw them.'

Amongst the chaos fifth grade teacher Mr Ayers was directing pupils into the bathroom and stood in front of them to shield them from the wind as they cowered in a cubicle, cried uncontrollably or had panic attacks.

Mrs Palmore said: ‘When it hit he said: Everybody in the bathroom. He was standing in the hallway but I don’t know if it sucked him out.

‘There’s no doors in the bathrooms, so I don’t know if he got sucked in. He was at the edge of the cubicle. We didn’t see him after that, so I don’t know if he’s still alive.’

Monica said: ‘He yelled run into the bathroom and nobody saw him after that. I think he’s still in the school.’

When the storm passed Monica and her mother ran back to their house but they had to ask neighbors if they were on the right street as all the houses were destroyed and there were no street signs.

Mrs Palmore said: ‘We were looking for my husband. If it wasn’t for Monica we wouldn’t have found him. You never know how frustrating it is to shout for help and nobody comes and helps you.

‘Monica found him. She said he was making noises.’

Monica said:  I heard him say help! I’m over here, I’m down here! Somebody saw his hand and realized where he was. ‘

A crowd then pulled out Mr Palmore who miraculously only suffered minor injuries.

Mrs Palmore added: ‘Had he been in the kitchen and the bathroom he wouldn’t have made it. He couldn’t breathe and he was running out of air. He had a bunch of heavy stuff on his chest.

‘If I would have gone home my kids would have died, we all would have been buried alive.’ 

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Some hero's are made but true hero's are born to be.

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Heroes walk among us all the time, it's a shame it takes a disaster to make us see them.

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