1 Family rides out tornado wearing bike helmets in bathtub -- another mourns loss of a joyful girl

MOORE, Okla. - A family of five survives the tornado that leveled their home by clinging together in the bathtub, all wearing bike helmets with a mattress pulled over their heads.

A mother counts her blessings because her two children survived when the deadly tornado smashed Plaza Towers Elementary School.

And parents across Moore, Okla., are hugging their children tighter because of what other families are going through right now.

 

--Father: 'She's a joy'--

Joshua Hornsby describes his 9-year-old daughter, Ja'Nae, as the love us his life, a little girl brimming with joy.

"She's a joy, just a big ball of energy," he says. "She makes you laugh when you don't want to. She loves on you even when you don't want it."

But Ja'Nea won't be coming home from school. She is among the seven children confirmed to have died at Plaza Towers Elementary on Monday.

Her father says he can hear Ja'Nea speaking to him now, telling him she is in a better place.

"He came and got her. He walked her home," Joshua Hornsby told 7NEWS reporter Jaclyn Allen after a memorial service for his daughter on Tuesday. "And I believe that all those children, God was with them in that very moment, in that very instant when the breath of life was snatched away from them. He was with them. I don't even believe they felt any pain, because I believe He snatched them before they felt the pain."

 

--The ride of their lives--

In another part of town, Nathan Kriesel, his wife and their three daughters -- 4-year-old twins and a 6 year old -- rode out the tornado in their bathtub.

They all strapped on bike helmets and pulled a mattress over themselves.

"We were down as low as we could get with a mattress over our heads," Kriesel said. "It was the center part of the house, with four walls. The strongest area we have."

 "And there's nothing left. It was the scariest time of my life," Kriesel said. "I don’t plan to do it like that again."

"We're trying to pick up anything that's worth anything. I found some pictures, a few mementos. We're hoping to find a teddy bear, a special teddy bear, but we haven’t found it," Kriesel said.

 

--A mother's prayers are answered--

Janai Barnett's two children were on opposite ends of Plaza Towers Elementary when the tornado hit.

One child took cover in a restroom, another in a hallway -- their hands over their heads.

"They said, at some point, everything just kind of disappeared above them," the mother said, as the powerful twister ripped apart the school around them.

"We're all very fortunate that our children are here," Janai Barnett said. "Unfortunately, some are not so lucky… I'm really blessed and very thankful that mine are."

The families of children who didn't make it home find comfort in prayer.

Ja'Nae's father says he can still hear her tiny voice.

 

''Father: 'She's going to be my strength to keep going'

"She's going to be my strength to keep going," Joshua Hornsby said. "I'm not going to give up on what I was going to do. I'm still going to keep going with her love and her memories inside of me."

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