Nightly News   |  August 16, 2013

An emotional first day back at school in Moore, Okla.

Teachers did all they could to provide some normalcy as students in Moore, Okla., returned to school after the devastating tornado that leveled the town in May. NBC’s Kate Snow reports.

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

>> it has been an emotional day in moore , oklahoma, as the new school year began and many students returned to temporary schools. two of their own elementary schools were destroyed in may's devastating tornado. here is what moore looked like before that tornado and we'll show you how it looked after its 17-mile path of destruction killed 24 people and wiped out scores of homes and businesses. tonight, our national correspondent kate snow is in moore at the site of what was plaza elementary school . kate?

>> reporter: lester, these are seven crosses for the seven young children who died here. they're rebuilding now for next year, but today students headed back to school at a temporary facility just down the road. there were smiles and hugs.

>> are you excited today?

>> reporter: back-to-school jitters compounded by all they've been through.

>> a lot of her friends still aren't coming back this year so it's been a rough summer. we're still not ready.

>> reporter: today teachers did all they could to provide some normalcy. but it's hard to forget. as xavier delgado waved at our camera today, he was pulled free in may after being trapped under a wall.

>> i heard the banging on the building, and that's all i heard. then the building just fell.

>> reporter: six of the seven killed were in xavier's class. their teacher ms. doan is still recovering.

>> this is what i want to do and this is what i want to be so i do want to come back.

>> reporter: does this school have a storm shelter?

>> no.

>> reporter: if a storm hits this year, students would be moved to the junior high next door into interior rooms. this doesn't look super sturdy.

>> it's not tornado-proof, but it's the safest place --

>> reporter: it's the best you've got.

>> right.

>> reporter: but it's not enough for the legg family.

>> when you hear that your school is the safest place to be and it blows away, literally everything around you goes up in the sky, you no longer feel safe.

>> reporter: their son christopher died in may. they pulled their other two children out of plaza towers and put them in the one elementary school in moore that has a certified shelter. even so --

>> last night was full of anxiety. last night was, mommy, my stomach hurts, i don't want to eat, i don't want to sleep. can i go to bed with you?

>> reporter: for principal amy simpson, one of the hardest parts is knowing that some kids no longer feel safe here.

>> i'm afraid that they've lost the trust and that they've lost the security that we had before may 20th .

>> reporter: but for many, just being back in school was therapy.

>> just to have them in my classroom is exciting, that i get to love on them and comfort them and heal together with them during this time.

>> reporter: they're trying to think of everything. there was rain in the forecast today, and principal simpson was worried that the sound of the rain on the new roof might scare the kids. well, the rain held off, lester. the sun is still shining.