OTR Interviews

Oklahoma tornado victim: 'The devastation was just unimaginable'

Oklahoma resident describes 'unimaginable devastation' as he details how he lost his home in mile-wide tornado


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 20, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: This violent tornado flattening all the homes in its path. James Moody's home was destroyed. He joins us. Nice to talk to you, sir.

JAMES MOODY, OKLAHOMA TORNADO VICTIM (Via Telephone): Good evening. How are you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Very well. So, where were you when your home was struck?

MOODY: I was actually at work and watching the weather, and the company I work for actually dismissed us early and told us that we could go home so we would be safe. And I was just watching the weather on the news and saw the tornado and saw the path that it was going and saw that it was going directly toward my house.

And I decided at that point I needed to get home, that I could come up the back side of the tornado and be safe and just kind of meandered back and forth through side roads at that point -- there was already a lot of traffic on the roads -- and got within a half a mile of my house and couldn't get any farther. So I just parked on the side of the road and took off running.

My wife was in a storm shelter. Our house, when you walk out the front door of our house, you're looking at Plaza Towers elementary school. And she had my three children in the storm cellar. And of course, I couldn't get through to her, tried repeatedly, and I got a text and it said everything is gone, and continued to try to -- I'm sorry -- continued to try to get through to her and couldn't.

And so by the time I parked and ran, of course, the closer I got, the devastation was just unimaginable. And whenever I went -- my folks lived up in Springfield, Missouri, and when I would go to see them, I stopped through Joplin shortly after that disaster and drove through it, and was (INAUDIBLE) taken back at the -- just completely unimaginable destruction there. And that's exactly what I was looking at when I walked up on my street.

My wife and three babies were standing in the driveway, and I knew it was OK at that point, that stuff is stuff, but life is precious. And my wife was incredible. She did amazing, like she always does. And we began to just help out.

She -- actually, shortly after the tornado was over, she pulled a child out from underneath a car. And she wasn't sure if the child's legs were broken or not. They were bleeding real bad. And she just tried to help out. You know, everybody in the area just jumped in. They came to our house needing blankets and towels. And of course, our house was destroyed. So we're, like, Sure, take it all. We gave them everything that we had -- the children that were out of the school, some type of protection on them.

And we were there, and you know, sifting through rubble. We just left. There's a curfew mandated tonight. No one is allowed to be in the neighborhood. And they were bringing in -- I saw a crane and they were trying to get in bulldozers and other things to start going through what was left of the school.

I was standing in my front yard, and of course, people were just walking all around, and I see this gentleman walk up through my back yard. And I just asked him, I said, Sir, are you a responder? And he said no. He said, My granddaughter is in that school, and I can't get to her. And of course, there's just mothers and dads walking all around the school, not knowing what's going on with their children.

And I -- you know, having a 10, 8, and 6-year-old of my own, I cannot grasp that feeling of -- you know, the mystery of the unknown in that situation would just be -- oh, I can't put it into words. I can't understand that.

So it's been a day of just -- I -- I don't know if I'm in shock, to be honest with you, Greta, because this is just so real, you know, going through my house and picking up stuff. And fortunately, a lot of the precious things in my wife and I's life, you know, bibles, pictures, the -- we framed the bring-home outfits of our children (INAUDIBLE) home from the hospital. We found two out of three of those, some of the kids' stuffed animals.

And it's just amazing to me, quite honestly, Greta, that the God of all creation keeps us and protects us. And I know that there's some life that was lost. But by the grace of God, I'm alive. And I do pray for those families that are out there and that are feeling heartache and loss right now because I know it's very real. I mean, I'm watching it and have watched it for the last several hours.

So it's just been -- I can't really put it into words. But it's been a night, Greta. It really has.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, James, it's, like, you know, our hearts, you know, all of us even watching this from far away, you know -- you know, are broken for all the families, I mean, the ones who've lost homes and everything. And of course, you know, the most painful right now is -- are those children in that elementary school...

MOODY: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... and the parents and the -- and the grandfather you talked about. I will tell you, I've covered so many of these disasters over the years -- I've been doing this so long -- is that when the sun rises tomorrow and we get through sort of, you know, the immediate heartache, and it's not easy, is that you will see -- you will the Americans come out and help you in all sorts of different ways...

MOODY: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... all these organizations, and you know, it's, like, the one thing is you're going to -- you'll see -- in the midst of this hardship, you're going to see a lot of the greatness that you'll see in people. But that's no consolation tonight or tomorrow or anything if you've lost a life and even lost your home.

But James, thank you for joining us tonight. You know, I don't know what to say, except, you know, thank you for joining us tonight.

MOODY: Well, I do -- I do want to end it with just saying that I do thank the Lord for saving my family, my wife and children. And I'm thankful to the family that I have and the friends that have reached out to me. It's been overwhelming. And I obviously am a believer in Jesus Christ, and I'm very thankful to him that I'm alive. And I do appreciate the time, Greta, and God bless you.

VAN SUSTEREN: James, thank you, sir.