MOORE, Okla. (KFOR) – May 2013 is a month many Oklahomans will not soon forget. The May 20th Moore tornado and the May 31st El Reno tornado combined caused dozens of deaths, hundreds of injuries and billions of dollars in damage.
As the 10-year anniversary approaches, KFOR is bringing you a special series of reports as we remember those lost on May 20 and May 31, 2013, as well as reflect on what we’ve learned in the decade since.
No other fire department knows the devastation of May’s Fury quite like the Moore Fire Department.
KFOR’s Emily Sutton recently checked back in with a Moore firefighter who opened up to News 4 for the first time five years ago about pulling children out of the rubble at Plaza Towers Elementary.
It’s been 10 years since Battalion Chief Corley Moore dug through the rubble pile of Plaza Towers Elementary.
“The good part was that we did pull out kids that were alive. We unfolded them and pulled them out – that was good. And then, we didn’t…” Moore told KFOR in 2018.
Moore says the traumatic rescue and recovery of seven young victims is haunting to this day.
“My takeaway is it’s okay to get help,” said Moore. “It is okay to express those things so you don’t end up not talking about something in five years.”
Moore is still working through his feelings of anguish and guilt, as well as the nerves that bubble to the surface when storms inevitably return.
“That comes around every storm season is kind of – I won’t say dread or fear – but it’s just kind of a level of anxiety, a little bit like, is it going to be this year,” said Moore.
Moore has found peace through therapy and specialized PTSD treatments.
The City of Moore was one of the first in the metro to hire a full-time mental health professional.
“I think that there’s been a shift in society, not just the fire service, but to be more accepting of mental health and the crisis that’s going on, not just first responders, but across the country,” said Moore. “And, you know, suicide amongst first responders, it takes more lives than line of duty death. And that’s a tragedy. And it’s something that we need to bring to the forefront we need to talk about.”
Bravery on display in the field and back at the station, Chief Corley Moore is leading the way and breaking down barriers for mental health wellness.