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Sirens heralded approaching killer tornado in Oklahoma City

May 20, 2013|By Hailey Branson-Potts | This post has been updated, as indicated below.
  • A child is pulled from the rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary School after a tornado in Moore, Okla.
A child is pulled from the rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary School after… (Sue Ogrocki / Associated…)

Jezire Hudson was at work in Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon when the tornado sirens went off, heralding an approaching storm that packed 200-mph winds. 

She and her fiance, Brent Akin, work for an oil and gas valve manufacturing company. Akin was in his company truck near the couple's home in Bethany, an Oklahoma City suburb.

He called to see whether he should go home and let the dog in, Hudson, 24, told the Los Angeles Times. "Just get back to work safely before it goes through that area," she answered.

PHOTOS: Tornadoes hit Oklahoma

Akin made it, then checked on Hudson. She went home to check on the pets, and the company's construction crew volunteered to take equipment to help with the removal of debris and the search and rescue effort, she said. Akin went with them.

Police "escorted them through, and they got to work," Hudson told The Times via Facebook message. "I am of course worried about how this will affect him. He has a huge heart, and although I am worried, I am proud that he would do this knowing the risk of the situation."  

MAP: Path of destruction

[Updated, 6:07 p.m. May 20: The death toll stood at 51, including several children, the Oklahoma Medical Examiner said Monday evening. Dozens are missing.]

Oklahomans are on edge, Hudson said, but her co-workers and others immediately wanted to help.

"I think the first thing most people did was make sure their homes and families were OK and then volunteered to do what they could. I know most have headed to their church homes to help plan a place to take in people who have lost their homes," she said. 

"But I heard a newsman cry on screen today, so people were definitely freaking out."

hailey.branson@latimes.com

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