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Local First Responders Learn Lessons From Moore

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COMANCHE COUNTY, Okla_The search is almost over for victims and survivors of the Moore tornado, and officials say they are almost certain there are no more.

The death toll now stands at 24, and more than 200 injured.

The Fire Chief says every damaged home has been searched at least once, but their goal is to search each spot three times to be sure.

Nearly fifty first responders from our area were among those who worked through the night.

Yesterday was bigger and more monstrous than anyone could have imagined. Our first responders said the people of Moore were prepared, and now they're taking lessons learned and applying them to life back at home.

Yesterday filled the minds of first responders with images they will never forget.

"It looked like a war zone. Just like it always does when you see people report it, " said Lawton Firefighter Daryl Nobis.

"An entire bowling alley up there that collapsed to the ground like an accordion, flat as a pancake, " said another Lawton Firefighter Justin Dipprey.

"We seen stop signs embedded in telephone poles and cars, " said Elgin Fire Chief Mike Baker.

Their experiences and these haunting images have them thinking ---are we ready if that happened here?

"Look in your home for the safest place which is usually the most interior part. If you have a storm shelter go to the storm shelter or a safe room, " said Clint Wagstaff of Comanche County Emergency Management.

They practice emergency response drills, but so much relies on what the people do on a personal level.

117 people who were rescued in Moore made it because they had underground storm shelters. Many of which were built after the tornado of 1999.

"There was no place safe there unless you were underground, " said Mike Baker.

If you don't have a shelter they said the bathroom is still a safe bet. Many times if there was a room of a home left standing, it was the bathroom.

Another thing they know, the car is the worst place to be.

"Do not get on the roads, and try to out run the tornado. There's more fatalities in vehicles than there are in actual homes, " said Wagstaff.

And if you are on the roads, get off.

"Find a secure building, brick and mortar building. Office buildings, Home Depot, some place like that. Even in convenient stores they have walk in coolers, " Wagstaff said.

Wagstaff also says stay away from schools and hospitals, like we saw in Moore, hospitals and schools are just as easily destroyed as other buildings, and they're there to serve a different purpose.

"The school's primary responsibility is taking care of the students, the hospital's primary responsibility is to take care of the sick and injured that come in there, " explained Wagstaff.

If you have a storm shelter or will be building one remember -- give Comanche County Emergency Management the location. If something does happen they will access your address on a list to find you and your family. That list is never sold or published, but it could be the difference between life and death.  

The Comanche County rescue teams are now on a 24-hour stand down. They were back home all day today, but if they get the call they will head out again tomorrow. They stressed that onlookers need to stay away to give crews room to work. The Highway Patrol has stationed 68 troopers around the damage zone to keep people out.

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