GRAPHIC: Six months of healing for Moore tornado victims and what is to come
MOORE, Okla. – There are so many stories that touched our hearts May 20 and we know they touched yours too.
This week, it has been six months since that terrible storm.
We wanted to update you on some of the most seriously injured victims.
For so many there is no rest from that nightmare.
When they close their eyes they are back in that Monday afternoon, fighting for life.
“I don’t even want to… the tornadoes are in my dreams, and one day hopefully they’ll be gone,” Edith Morales said.
Morales is one of those victims.
She was pulled from the bottom of a rubble pile at the 7-Eleven on the corner of S.W. 4th and Telephone Road.
Fifty days in the ICU and Edy finally spoke.
“It was bad; the wind was, it was screaming,” she said July 16. “After that I don’t remember much.”
It would be another 75 days before Edy would get to go home, stitched back together by surgeons and generosity.
Strangers from around the globe donated their kindness.
They gave Edy a motorized wheelchair, a car, they paid medical bills and showed Edy there was hope when she nearly lost hers.
“I’m grateful to so many who sent cards,” she said. “Those cards kept me I think from, they kept me hanging on when there was days when I didn’t think I could get through it.”
Recovery has been intense.
Edith is paralyzed and doctors are still fighting infection in Edy’s left arm.
They’ll amputate the arm if doesn’t heal.
Edy’s daughter, Christina Morales, quit her job to care for her mom.
“I’m thankful that I get to do this for her; I know a lot of kids wouldn’t,” Christina said. “I know a lot of families couldn’t so I’m glad I’m there everyday.”
It is a new kind of everyday for Edy Morales and her whole family.
They are thankful, prayerful and optimistic about her new life.
Suzanne Haley was a special ed teacher’s aid from Briarwood Elementary.
The Moore tornado drove the leg of a student’s desk right through her calf.
Tuesday night, Haley met up with the officer who rescued her for the first time.
“For myself and the other officers who live down here, it’s still pretty emotional but we have a job to do and we have to work through that to be able to continue our day and still serve the community,” Oklahoma City Police Sgt. John Blumenthal said.
The south side is home for Blumenthal.
Blumenthal has driven S.W. 149th St. to Briarwood a thousand times but none more critical than the trip he took May 20, the day he discovered Suzanne Haley at the bottom of a pile of debris.
He discovered Haley, impaled by a desk leg, near a class of first graders, under a pile of debris.
The image was picked up by news outlets around the world.
Her story went viral.
“I was so glad I was there that day to make sure she was able to go home to her family like the rest of us,” Blumenthal said. “For her to go home to her girls was just as important as it was to everyone else that day.”
Haley is a single mom with two young daughters.
They were together that day in the first grade wing as Haley and another teacher pushed the desks up against a wall and sheltered the kids underneath as the storm hit.
“It’s just what you do. They can’t protect themselves,” Haley said on June 10. “You put yourself in the way and know that if something’s going to hit, it’s going to get us first.”
Suzanne Haley saved the kids May 20 but they were stuck in that hole and she was stuck to that desk.
And that’s when Officer Blumentahal arrived.
“Just initially, knowing that he was there, just knowing we were going to be OK, that he was going to do anything he could,” Haley said.
Haley left for the hospital in the bed of a pick-up right after the sergeant pulled her out.
She hadn’t seen her rescuer until News Channel 4 coordinated a surprise first-time, second meeting.
The meet-up was another layer of healing for both of them.
“I’m really glad I got to meet her though,” Blumenthal said. “It’s been a long few months for everybody, especially here. I still have to patrol down here. Even coming down here to patrol is tough sometimes.”
It was another chance for Blumenthal to see that famous leg.
Haley’s leg injury has healed though she is still haunted by hindsight and the barrage of what-ifs that come with close calls.
“It’s just like pretty crazy what memories surface and just going through the motions are remembering and you know,” Haley said. “I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of stuff that’s brought up over time.”
Both Haley and Blumenthal have children in Moore Public Schools.
Haley is teaching again.
She said she is terrified about what spring storms could bring knowing so many school buildings are not strong enough to stand up to that kind of storm.
“I’ve ridden that wall; it was terrifying,” Haley said. “I don’t wish that upon anyone. For my sake. My kids sake. We may not be there the next time it comes around if that happens. But there will be teachers and kids that can’t leave and, in my opinion, that’s worth the fight.”
May 20 was a day that changed both of them.
Briarwood Elementary was demolished a few weeks after the tornado.
The district is rebuilding that school and the others damaged by the EF-5.
Wednesday at 10 p.m. News Channel 4′s Ali Meyer talks with Moore Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Romines about building safer schools.
Romines will share where he was that day, how it changed him and how the district is moving forward with plans for eight saferoom structures at schools throughout the district.
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