TODAY   |  May 24, 2013

Okla. principal: After storm, ‘the crying stopped’

For the first time since Monday’s devastating tornado, teachers, students, and parents at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla. gathered together Thursday afternoon. Said one teacher, “I know I’m probably still in shock.”  NBC’s Kate Snow reports.

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

>>> al, thank you. people here on the jersey shore know all too well what the folks of moore, oklahoma are going through. nbc's kate snow talked to the principals and teachers at plaza towers elementary where seven children lost their lives. kate, good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, savannah. yesterday on thursday for the first time they all got together, parents, teachers, students, greeting each over tther for the first time since the torpedo and the principal of the elementary school are speaking exclusively with "rock center" talking about what it was like to live through that and how they're working to get past it. thursday was a day for hugs. one last day to be together before the summer break.

>> this is her classroom right here.

>> reporter: their school will be bulldozed. this is the first time principal amy simpson has been back since late monday.

>> i got on the intercom and said it's here and all of a sudden you could hear the air duct crash down and a pipe, and i could hear the other four ladies in there, and that's when i started to yell.

>> what'd you yell?

>> just in god's name, go away. go away. and i yelled it. four or five times. and then it was gone.

>> reporter: and when it was gone, the scene was beyond belief. what fell on top of you?

>> a wall, some two by fours, a car.

>> a car?

>> a car was there on top of all this debris.

>> reporter: you understand how unbelievable this sounds.

>> i wasn't feeling any of it. my mind, my feelings were for those kids underneath me and i could tell they were okay, i could feel they were okay.

>> they're still talking to you?

>> they were still talking.

>> this is a classroom.

>> reporter: but in the third grade building there was no talking. principal simpson showed us where teacher jennifer doan and her students were trapped. ms. doan was draped over two little boys , a wall on top of them.

>> she was hearing crying and crying and crying, and then after the tornado the crying stopped and it's what she said was the crying was horrible but when it stopped, it was worse.

>> reporter: seven students were gone, kindergarten teacher erin baxter says she's still in a state of disbelief and shock.

>> when i stopped moving and i just sit down, it just comes back.

>> your voice broke when you said it comes back.

>> yes.

>> are you having bad dreams ?

>> no, i haven't really slept. it's still hard.

>> reporter: it will take a long time for that hurt to go away. yesterday they had grief counselors there. they're going to provide that for the kids here. the third graders had a special session of their own because they lost so many friends but with all the loss important to remember how many lives were saved by those teachers. savannah?

>> kate snow in moore, oklahoma, thank you. you can see more of kate's report tonight on "rock center with brian