The destruction in Oklahoma hits far too close to home for one Rhea County woman.
Amber Helton once walked the halls of one of the schools destroyed.
Her family and friends still live in and around the community of Moore.
"They're just so innocent," Amber Helton says. "They don't deserve that, nobody does, but I mean, they are just kids." Amber Helton holds back tears as she talks about the children killed by the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma. "Just keep praying, keep praying because they are going through a really hard time," Amber says. Helton knows the Moore community well. She lived there for the first 16 years of her life. "It's devastating," Amber says. "Regardless, it's just devastating to see, but to know I've walked on the same ground and might have even been with the same teachers, who knows?" She can remember taking cover in the halls of Briarwood Elementary School during tornado drills. Briarwood was one of two schools destroyed by the storm. "At least everybody made it out of that school," she says. "I wish everybody would have made it everywhere." Helton was texting with her dad, who rode out the storm in a cellar. He and other family members live just miles from Moore. "Thankfully, they are all safe and okay," Amber says. Helton says the hard part is being so far away from people she cares about and knows are hurting. "There are several people out there that their homes are gone," she says. "Devastation, misery, sadness, and a feeling of did this really happen," Amber says. "A reality check kind of thing, waiting for the bad dream to end." "I would love to take a plane and just go help out wherever I can even if it's just cleaning up debris," Amber adds. "I would love to be there." But for now, all she can do is pray. And she hopes others will do the same. "It's a major tragedy and a major life change," she says. "And it's something that should never be forgotten."
Helton hopes to return to Oklahoma to help with cleanup as soon as possible.
Thursday marks 25 years since 69-year old Mena Richie was found beaten to death in her home.
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