Plaza Towers Teacher Remembers Monday's Tornado

LAWTON, Okla._ A fourth grade school teacher that survived Monday's deadly tornado speaks out about her and her students' survival, and their slow road to recovery.

Two Moore elementary schools were flattened by Monday's tornado. Plaza Towers Elementary School took a direct hit. Dozens were injured, and sadly several others were killed.

Lawton native Kimberly Martinez is a teacher at that school, and said there was no way any of them could have prepared for what was about to happen.

It was the last week of school and spirits were high when things suddenly took an unexpected turn. Kimberly told 7NEWS the school had been monitoring the weather throughout the day. She said she was teaching a math lesson to her fourth graders when thunder started to shake her smart board, and then they heard the tornado sirens.

She told her students to grab a book to cover their heads, and led them to the bathroom where together they braced for the worst.

"It was just the most terrifying thing that you can imagine," said Plaza Towers teacher Kimberly Martinez.

Three sirens would sound Monday before an EF 5 tornado hit Plaza Towers Elementary. Kimberly Martinez was with her kids in the bathroom, and wasn't sure if they'd ever make it out.

"I just remember thinking its here, and we are probably not going to make it," said Kimberly Martinez.

She was texting her family just as another teacher told everyone to get down and to cover their heads. She said then they all heard a terrifying roar.

"You could just hear it coming. It was at our school by the time that I texted them and you could just hear it ripping through," said Kimberly Martinez.

She said that it happened fast, but at the same time it felt like an eternity.

"The kids were screaming and some were praying and some were crying for their parents," said Kimberly Martinez.

However, even in a time of pure terror, Martinez said her students showed an incredible amount of strength she'll never forget.

"They were just so brave and that just made me so proud of them," said Kimberly Martinez.

She said just as quickly as the tornado came, it left. Not without leaving it's mark.

"Some the students were kind of climbing up the wall, and I just remember them screaming and crying. I could not figure out why because like I said I thought we were just missing our roof. I thought everything was okay," said Kimberly Martinez.

She said she never could have imagined what was outside the four bathroom walls.

"The rubble was halfway up the hallway, and we actually had to step up to get out. At that point you are on top of it and you look out into the neighborhood and everything is gone. Everything is leveled," said Kimberly Martinez.

She said once outside she saw people running to the school. It was people who had lost everything, but still wanted to help. Some were parents frantically looking for their children.

"One of the fathers just climbed over and was bleeding from his head and he didn't care he was pulling kids out," said Kimberly Martinez.

She said unfortunately the terror was not over once outside of the bathroom. Only moments after she was out of the rubble, the sirens would sound again, but only as a malfunction.

"We did not have any connection to the outside world again at that point, so we did not know if another one was about to hit or not. It was just terrifying because there was no where around to hide," said Kimberly Martinez.

She said for as long as they live she and her students will never forget the images they witnessed first hand.

"When it was over, I remember looking up, and the roof was gone. You could see the debris still spinning in the air and it was still right there just past our school," said Kimberly Martinez.

Kimberly said that she returned to her classroom on Thursday. Only one wall remained, and her water bottle was still sitting on her desk. She said while she and all of her students survived the deadly tornado, many of her students' siblings were killed or seriously injured.

She said she's thankful for the first responders that day in Moore, calling these people her heroes.

Kimberly Martinez said that Moore Public Schools plans to rebuild Plaza Towers Elementary.