Sibling rivalry takes a backseat after Okla. tornado

(CBS News) MOORE, Okla. - So many parents share the same wish -- that the kids will stop fighting and get along. Sometimes it takes something big for them to get the message -- as we discovered "on the road."

They may be fraternal twins, but 11-year-olds Caleb and Colby Brown couldn't be more different. They disagree on almost everything -- even about how Monday's tornado will change them.

The Brown children - Caleb, Colby and Courtney - survived the Oklahoma tornado, an incident that brought them closer together than before.
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"It's going to change us mentally and physically," said Colby.

"I wouldn't say physically," said Caleb.

"Probably not physically," said Colby, "but mentally."

We met the sibling rivals here at Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City. They were visiting their 8-year-old sister Courtney, who hurt her head during the storm. They never used to get along with her either.But things are sure different now.

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"We thought that each other was severely injured or even worse, killed," said Colby.

All three attended Plaza Towers Elementary. When the tornado hit, Courtney was hunkered down in a hallway; the boys, in a bathroom.

Watch a Web extra segment on Plaza Towers Elementary, which was destroyed by the tornado:

"And I looked up at the tornado," said Colby. "It was scary."

"We saw blood everywhere -- on people, on the ground, wires and mud," said Caleb.

And they still haven't seen the worst of it. The kids' mom, Rachquel, doesn't think they're ready to see their house yet. "Especially if we uncover a dog," she said.

Their dog Charlie was in the house at the time. But they said that's the only thing left in the house that matters.

"We may not have a house but we still have a family," said Caleb.

"I don't really care about the house," said Colby.

After they found each other in the schoolyard, the kids say they hugged for a long time, and haven't let go since.

"They're my only brothers, and if they died, I don't know what I'd do," said Courtney

"As a mom," said Rachquel, "that's what you want, 'cause you try to teach them the family is the most important thing. And it took this experience for them to realize how much their sister and brother mean to them."

Watch an Web extra segment of a happy reunion between an Oklahoma tornado victim and her dog:

You would never wish the death and destruction of a tornado on anyone, but we could all use a little of the mindset that comes with one -- a chance to appreciate anew our brothers and sisters, parents, and even puppy dogs.

"Charlie!" said Rachquel upon seeing the dog amid the rubble of a house. "Hi baby!"

Amazing how sometimes life's greatest gifts are the ones we already had.

To contact "On the Road," or to send us a story idea, e-mail us.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.