Kids, teachers from destroyed Okla. school reunite

Class photos still decorate a classroom wall amid the wreckage of Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven children were killed earlier in the week when a tornado hit Moore, Okla., Thursday, May 23, 2013. AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

Updated 10:06 PM ET

MOORE, Okla. Students from a suburban Oklahoma City elementary school destroyed by this week's tornado reunited with their teachers Thursday and collected whatever could be salvaged from the ruins.

Some children carried thank-you cards. A first-grader was eager to see her favorite gym teacher and for a chance to say goodbye for the school year.

It was one of many difficult goodbyes for the city of Moore. Family and friends attended the funeral of a 9-year-old girl who died at Plaza Towers Elementary School — the first since Monday's storm, which killed 24 people.

Students who survived the storm's onslaught at the school and those whose parents had pulled them out of class just before it hit gathered with their teachers at another Moore school that wasn't damaged. Seven children died at Plaza Towers.

Authorities kept journalists at a distance, but Cheryle Dixon, a grandmother of first-grader Crisily Dixon, talked to a reporter about how hard it was for the little girl.

"A lot of tears, a lot of worry about her gym teacher, a lot of worry about a lot of the teachers that she knew, so she just can't believe it," Dixon said.

The father of 7-year-old Crisily had picked her up an hour before the tornado struck when he learned the severity of the approaching storm — a top-of-the-scale EF5 that was on the ground for 40 minutes, according to the National Severe Storm Lab in Norman.

After the disaster, when Crisily saw pictures on the news of a car in the hallway that leads to her classroom, "her little face, she just turned pale," Dixon said.

At the same time, Dixon said her granddaughter was looking ahead to second grade in the fall and was hoping a book she needed was fished out of the school's ruins.

"She said, `What about my book, what about my book? I'm supposed to have it for next year,"' the grandmother said, her eyes filling with tears. "She said, `I'm supposed to take it to second grade. It was in my desk.' "

Moore Schools Superintendent Susan Pierce said Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary schools will be rebuilt. Briarwood was heavily damaged but no one was killed there.

"And we will reopen and we will have school in August," she said.

Meanwhile, a band of thunderstorms battered the Oklahoma City area Thursday, slowing cleanup operations.

Also, the first of the funerals, for a 9-year-old girl killed at a Moore elementary school that took a direct hit, took place Thursday morning. A family photo showed the girl, Antonia Candelaria, beaming with a big smile and wearing a white sun hat.

Antonia's relatives and friends huddled under umbrellas in a downpour as they hurried into a chapel for her funeral. Mournful country music played in the chapel that was adorned with photos of the smiling girl.

Two elementary schools were hit — one was leveled — by Monday's tornado. Antonia was one of seven children who perished at the Plaza Towers Elementary School, a one story building with barely a wall left standing. Altogether, 10 children were killed in the storm, including two infants.

Thursday's thunderstorms produced hail, heavy rain and high winds in the morning. A flash flood warning was also in effect. The National Weather Service said more severe storms were forecast for late afternoon and at night, and that more tornados were a possibility.

The weather was hampering cleanup and recovery efforts that had just begun to accelerate now that all of the missing have been accounted for. Residents were only formally allowed back into the damage zone on Wednesday afternoon, where they picked through enormous piles of debris.

Shayne Patteson was among them, moving around the ruins of his three-bedroom home. All that was left was the tiny area where his wife hunkered down under a mattress to protect their three children when a tornado packing winds of at least 200 mph slammed through his neighborhood.

Patteson vowed to rebuild, likely in the same place, but said next time he will have an underground storm shelter.

"That is the first thing that will be going into the design of the house, is the storm shelter and the garage," he said as he looked around piles of bricks and plywood where their home once stood.

In the middle of the tornado's path Monday, the only guaranteed safe spot was underground.

But, as CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor reports, if you want that kind of shelter in Oklahoma, where basements are extremely rare, you have to pay for it, about $5,000 for shelters in homes and up to a million for much larger safe rooms in schools.

Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis said Wednesday he would propose an ordinance in the next couple of days to require all new homes to have storm shelters.

The city already has some. After a massive tornado tore a near-identical path in 1999, city authorities provided incentives such as federal grant dollars to help residents cover the costs of safe rooms. This time, though, Lewis thinks it is necessary to compel people to include them in all new construction.

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