Tornado victim: 'The living room used to be over there'

Credit: Taka Yokahama / WFAA

Just 100 yards from the elementary school where seven young children were killed in the May 20, 2013 tornado, Jake Langham and some friends scrambled to collect personal belongings from his flattened residence.

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on May 22, 2013 at 8:15 AM

MOORE, Oklahoma — After one of the most powerful tornadoes in U.S. history touched down in this Oklahoma City suburb on Monday, there is really little left to see.

There is no mistaking it: If there is a ground zero in Moore, this is it. Home after home cruelly — and literally — blown to bits, reduced to their slabs.

The mountains of debris are a curiosity to strangers. But to homeowners, it's all that's left of their precious property.

Their lives.

Their dreams.

Welcome to what's left of 847 Southwest 14th Street. Homeowner Jake Langham and some friends scrambled at dusk Tuesday to salvage some collectibles, some valuables, and a few memories.

"The living room used to be over there; bedrooms used to be back over here," Langham said. "You see what it was. It's not there any more."

He said when he first heard the warnings on Monday he thought about riding it out. But then, the TV weatherman sounded a sobering alarm.

"We've got a theater that was right over there; they said it was heading that way, you just knew it was coming this direct path," Langham said.

That's when he decided to run.

"Grab the dog, throw it in the back of the truck, and go."

When Langham returned on Tuesday, he saw what would have been his fate had he stayed.

Just 100 yards behind his home, recovery crews were still at work recovering debris from what is left of Plaza Towers Elementary School, where the tornado exacted its most sinister toll.

Seven young children lost their lives in that building.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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