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Into the Storm: Tears for a child lost in Oklahoma tornado

Caption
(Photo provided by Brad Hruza)
Emily Conatzer, who lost her life in the Moore tornado

This week's blog is a little different. As the cold front has passed, and it will be quiet for the next week, I would like to discuss a heartfelt story of a child lost in Moore, Okla. Just over the weekend, I had become friends with the family of Emily Conatzer, who lost her life in the Moore tornado on May 20, 2013 at Plaza Towers School. The stories I am hearing from her mother brought us so close now. We have become like family now. We have adopted them as our family to help them.

We sent out a big donation to their other daughter, Luci, yesterday. They lost everything, but nothing is worse than losing their child. When they found them, Emily was holding hands with her best friend Antonia, who also passed away. The hurt I feel with the sight of that is bad. This is why we must not be complacent.

To people who wish for tornadoes, all I can say is, go to that school and stand where those children died, like my team did last month, and I promise you will never want that. Seven children died in that school, and I stood right on the spot where they died. I was so at a loss for words, and tears started flowing as I sat there for a long time. It's something I could never explain, and what this family is dealing with is something I also cant explain.

Yesterday, was 50 days since the EF-5 tornado ripped through the town. I have included photos of Emily. Look at that angel's face and smile. I hurt when I look because I have become so close to this family that I can feel some of the pain. The family is holding on, but they need our support and prayers. We will be lifelong friends, and I feel as Emily is my niece now. I feel very close to this child.

It is VERY hard for me to talk about this because I went to the school and was escorted where the public can't go. We were allowed on the school grounds. One photo is an empty spot. That's the classroom where they didn't make it. It's so hard to explain what I felt. Luci was just feet away from her sister when this happened. She survived, thanks to God. Emily was and is always an angel. With the spirit of hope, we will prevail and help rebuild! I am working with them now.

We are writing a letter and bill to get passed in Oklahoma called "The Emily Project." The concern is shelters in schools. Janae, Emily, Antonia, Christopher, Nicolas, Sydney and Kyle, we will never forget you all. EVERY one of their names will be engraved on the doors of these shelters. This should never have happened. This should have been avoided. The school did what it could. After seeing the school, I was saying I was surprised so many made it out.

Lastly, I want to address the family of Emily. You are great. You are strong, We are family, and I love you guys. I have not even felt this close to anyone even when I was married. We work to save lives, and this has happened. It breaks my heart every day. I am not ashamed to admit I have cried, and I wish I could bring her home to you. I put my life on the line chasing, so this doesn't happen, but sometimes tornadoes are so bad there's no escaping. I know how delicate this is for you Kristi and Christopher! Your daughter was and is an amazing person. She said she wanted to change the world. We WILL finish what she started together. She is changing the world. I am dedicating my book in the memory of Emily. I was honored and moved when her mother said I could.

My family and I are here for you for anything, as you know. You are in my life now. I hurt with you. You are not alone. I know you have support from so many people. You will never have as much love and support as you get from me and my family. I was one day late before that tornado, and I see why. You need us. You are a wonderful family, and there is nothing I won't do for you. I will be there soon to just love and support and hug you guys. I love you guys, and I will always. If it took me to pass away in a storm to bring her back, I would. In her honor, all I can do for storm chasing is do more to not let this happen again.

To finish the blog, all of these families need prayer. What happened was I connected right away with her. I knew this was who needs us. But this is why I do what I do. Chasing comes last, this has changed my way of chasing and took me to another level. Chasing always came last, safety and protecting is first. If I saw a tornado on the right and people in need on the left, theres NO doubt I would turn left. That's what's important to me when I chase. Forget the storms, jump in and help. I can't explain what I saw down there, but it's heartbreaking and an eye-opener for us.

This isn't a question of if, but when, this will happen here. We need our priorities put back in line.

Thank you, and Emily, I thank you for being on this earth to show us how to live. Her birthday is a day before mine, and her mother has family that lives just up the road from me. We are connected. We always will be.

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