TODAY   |  May 22, 2013

Moore native Toby Keith: These people are resilient

Country superstar Toby Keith rushed home to Moore, Okla., to comfort family and friends in the town where he grew up after it was devastated by a tornado. He talks to TODAY’s Matt Lauer about how he and his loved ones are coping with the disaster.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back with more now from moore , oklahoma. country music superstar toby keith traveled from moore on monday to nashville, tennessee, just hours before the tornado hit. well, on tuesday he was back here in his hometown to assess the damage. and i had a chance to talk to him. hey, uncle sam

>> reporter: a megastar career in country music beckons toby keith to a life on the road most days. of the red, white, and blue

>> reporter: but this week he found himself rushing home to comfort family and friends.

>> look at this. it's gone.

>> reporter: after monday's heartbreaking tornado tore through his town.

>> how you doing?

>> oh, i love you. god was with us.

>> which one?

>> this one.

>> reporter: keith grew up on these streets, a well-loved son moore proudly calls its own. and for him, the damage here is personal.

>> this is my sister's house. you can tell she was pretty lucky.

>> reporter: one of the first things i passed when i came into moore was a water tank and it said, " moore , home of toby keith ."

>> pretty proud of that.

>> reporter: so this is home. what do you think when you drive around here?

>> well, it's devastating, you can see, but even worse flying in. because i know all these streets. that little grocery store in the corner there is where we got our baseball cards and where we got our gas for mowing lawns in the summer and i grew up in a little house about four streets over here, until i was in -- almost out of junior high . and then we moved out on a farm about three miles outside of town.

>> reporter: a lot of people talk about 1999 , the may 3rd tornado. so the people here know what this is like. talk to me about resilience.

>> you won't believe it. this won't -- this thing will -- as bad as this looks right now, these people are so resilient and they're so prepared for it. you know, it hit the schools, it's just awful, but the people here are so resilient, they'll bounce back, homes will start going up quick and they'll prepare for the next one.

>> reporter: you have family here too?

>> i have family zprenand friends all over this place. my mother is a mile south of there, so she barely missed it, and i'm three on more down. but it came across here and just devastation.

>> you talked about that school. an elementary school is kind of a symbol of a community and you lost two.

>> reporter: my son-in-law heard about it, knew about the school, drove over there, flipped his truck getting in, got out, beat the rescue first responders in, got electrocuted, ran a nail all the way through his foot and got in a tunnel, and had a tunnel collapse on him and got inside and helped pull bodies out.

>> reporter: you know, the entertainment community has been so great too late a lot of towns and cities across the country when things like this hit. what do you want them to know about moore ?

>> obviously, there's a lot of places, red cross , salvation army , where you can donate money. if you're more fortunate than others, these people are less fortunate. so we need to rally around and make sure that we can get some money and provide some services in here.