As Recovery Continues, Hope Springs Eternal For Moore Tornado Victims

Moore, Oklahoma resident Jim Routon hugs his neighbor's child, 7-year-old Hezekiah, at Briarwood Elementary after a tornado destroyed the school on May 20, 2013. (credit: Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman/NewsOK.com)

Moore, Oklahoma resident Jim Routon hugs his neighbor’s child, 7-year-old Hezekiah, at Briarwood Elementary after a tornado destroyed the school on May 20, 2013. (credit: Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman/NewsOK.com)

MOORE, Okla. (CBSDFW.COM) – Today officials in Oklahoma are estimating the deadly tornado that tore through the city of Moore damaged or destroyed as many as 13,000 homes.

As it stands, the Oklahoma Insurance Department is estimating damage somewhere between $1.5 and $2 billion.

As hard numbers on property and damage begin to come in, the focus at the scene largely shifted from search and rescue to recovery.

There is no question that cleanup and rebuilding will be a massive undertaking and now Moore families are starting the process.

A deadly twister on Monday, wet and rainy on Tuesday and today rescuers were out once again, this time in the heat and humidity. As they continued to sift through debris hundreds of Moore homeowners also dealt with the peril that a tornado leaves behind.

On Wednesday residents once again tried to retrieve some of the treasures of their lives that were ransacked by a monstrous, deadly wall of wind. On this day resident Charles McIntire said he was sure of three things — one, his sister-in-law’s house is now a mound of debris and that she and the others inside survived the storm.

As the family sifted through the debris of family furnishings, personal items and mementoes there was one item his sister-in-law said she simply had to find. McIntire said, “The most important thing for her is her husband’s urn.”

Then, seemingly purely by grace, as quickly as the words left McIntire’s mouth… they found it!

Jim Routon has some definite ideas about the strength of local citizens. “That’s how this community is going to get through this is depending on each other.”

Routon isn’t just saying those words he lived them. When the tornado hit an elementary school three blocks from his home the world saw how Routon and others responded. The photograph above captured the Moore resident searching and finding, not his child…. but his neighbor’s son. The picture is worth a thousand tears.

“When I hugged him, it was an emotional connection,” Routon recalled. “I needed it as much as he did… something good coming out of all the bad. It was pretty amazing.”

The bad is plentiful in Moore. Children have died and left hundreds of others with injuries. While the damage still extends for miles, the ritual of recovery goes on.

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