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Oklahoma tornado: Teachers emerge as heroes

Teachers have emerged as some of the biggest heroes during Monday's devastating tornado in Oklahoma.

There have been accounts of teachers shielding students with their own bodies and directing children to hide under desks and in bathrooms, saved many lives.

Trenda Purcell, a mother of two, was reunited with her son who attended Briarwood Elementary, which was one of two elementary schools in Moore, Okla., badly hit by the tornado.

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"I'm amazed that he walked out of the building alive," Purcell told CBS News, referring to her 8-year-old son Kamden.

Her 15-year-old son, Kigan, attends a different school, and was safe.

"I had to try and stay calm," said Purcell, when she found out that her younger son's school was nearly destroyed by the twister.

"It was kind of scary," said Kamden. "She [the teacher] told us to go under our desks."

"The desks were all over us ... to protect us from the ceiling, everyone was together, and then the tornado hit and there was a bunch of water," said Kamden.

Trenda Purcell said she credits her son's teacher with saving her child, along with the other kids in his class.

"I then hugged her just as hard as I did Kamden because I felt that she helped save my son's life. I mean all those kids that she had in there, she helped save all of them," said Purcell.

"I was thinking I was going to die," said Kamden.

There were reports of neighbors helping each other out too.

Longtime Moore resident Jerry Gravitt, who lost his home in the tornado, which was about a block from Plaza Towers Elementary School, told CBS News that he cleared the road so emergency responders could get to the school to help the trapped students.

"I took my backhoe around there and started to clear the road to where vehicles can get in," said Gravitt.

Lynn Hughes, whose home was completely destroyed, told The Oklahoman that she was struck by was the kindness of her neighbors.

"My neighbor, Jim Kinder, was over here at the crack of dawn with a dozer asking where he should start," she said. "He and his wife, Ann, are heroes to this community. Everyone is just out here to help each other."