May 21, 2013 6:21am PT by Erin Carlson
Oklahoma Tornado: How the Morning Shows Are Covering (Video)
The networks' morning shows led Tuesday's broadcasts with coverage of the devastation wrought in Moore, Okla., by the two-mile-wide tornado that ripped through the town the afternoon before, killing at least 24 and injuring some 145.
NBC's Today show dispatched Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, Willie Geist and Natalie Morales to the scene to survey the damage, interview survivors and get updates on recovery efforts from Moore mayor Glenn Lewis, among others. The program had planned to broadcast from Yellowstone National Park on Tuesday, but the team diverted the trip to cover the developing story in Oklahoma.
Morales reported from a helicopter that flew over flattened homes and rubble, and Lance West -- the reporter from the NBC affiliate station in Oklahoma City who choked up during his on-air correspondence of the disaster -- spoke with Guthrie, recalling: "It was one of the most heartbreaking events I've ever had to cover."
Geist tag-teamed a report on MSNBC's Morning Joe alongside Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. "It looks like a scene from Iraq, or Syria -- a war zone," remarked Scarborough.
Nancy Snyderman, NBC News' chief medical editor, was also on the ground and relayed how "exhausted" the doctors and nurses have been in the aftermath of the storm. As of Monday night, the death toll was reported to be 51, with an official from the coroner's office telling CNN that another 40 bodies had yet to be processed. But The New York Times reported a revised number on Tuesday, confirming 24 deaths with the medical examiner.
Some 101 survivors were rescued overnight.
Meanwhile, CBS This Morning sent Norah O'Donnell to co-host from Oklahoma with Charlie Rose and Gayle King at the anchors' desk in New York City. Interviews included Moore residents such as a mother whose two children survived as the tornado crushed their elementary school and an elderly woman who discovered her dog buried under the wreckage of her house. (See the video here.)
ABC's Good Morning America had weatherman Sam Champion at the scene while Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos anchored from New York. Via satellite, Roberts interviewed two teachers, Sherri Bittle and Cindy Lowe, who helped shield students when the storm struck Briarwood Elementary.
Lowe recalled "laying my body on top of as many kids as I could to help out," and Bittle described parents' desperation, saying: "it was just heartbreaking to see the tears of joy ... it was so hard for the parents to actually get to the children."
Rhonda Crosswhite, a teacher at Plaza Towers Elementary, had an emotional reunion on Today with a fourth-grader, Damian Britton; she had thrown herself on top of Britton and several other children in a bathroom stall. They emerged unscathed but seven students at Plaza perished.
"It was like a freight train," said Crosswhite. "It felt like someone was beating me up."