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For Oklahoma tornado survivors, shock follows storm

The powerful tornado that swept through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on Monday left 24 dead. As survivors survey the wreckage, they contemplate their luck, faith and building construction. The community has seen four tornados since 1998. 

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Jacob Wright, a volunteer from Tulsa, prays with Rachel and Brad Schmoyer whose home was damaged in Moore, Okla. while they waited to re-enter the neighborhood Wednesday, May 22, 2013.

AP Photo/Tulsa World, Mike Simons

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Tornado survivors thanked God, sturdy closets and luck in explaining how they lived through the colossal twister that devastated an Oklahoma town and killed 24 people, an astonishingly low toll given the extent of destruction.

At least one family took refuge in a bathtub and some people shut themselves in underground shelters built into their houses when the powerful storm tore through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on Monday.

While rescue workers and body-sniffing dogs sifted through the ruins on Wednesday, those who escaped told their stories of survival while trying to salvage what was left of their belongings.

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"Yesterday I was numb. Today I cried a lot. Now I'm on the victory side of it," said Beth Vrooman, who hid in a shelter in her garage in Moore during the storm.

The tornado's winds exceeded 200 miles per hour (320 kph), flattened entire blocks and demolished two schools and a hospital on the storm's 17-mile (27-km), 50-minute rampage through central Oklahoma.

Of the 24 people killed, 10 were children, including seven who died at Plaza Towers Elementary School. About 320 others were injured. The youngest victim was 4 months old. The oldest was 63.

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