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After devastating Oklahoma tornado, a desperate search for friend

A few hours after a massive tornado tore through the Oklahoma City area, ravaging neighborhoods and an elementary school in the suburb of Moore, Edie Cordray sent an urgent message to members of her church in nearby Norman.

"Please pray for my best friend," she wrote.

The friend, Becky Jo Evans, teaches first grade at Plaza Towers Elementary School, and Evans and her students were missing, Cordray wrote.

PHOTOS: Tornadoes hit Oklahoma

Cordray was at her church, where she works as a day care teacher, when the tornado hit with 200-mph winds.

She reached Evans’ mother, who was "hysterical," Cordray's pastor, Chad Bartlett, told the Los Angeles Times.  Cordray herself was too upset to speak with a reporter.

Bartlett tried to console her while he was on the phone with The Times. Cordray and Bartlett's wife, Helen, had been crying.

 "They're going to get her," Bartlett told Cordray, who wanted to help search through the rubble. "She's going to be all right. Don't drive. Don't go up there."

MAP: Path of destruction

 Another friend of Cordray, Britane Diacon-Boese, picked up Cordray from the church to console her.

Just after 6 p.m., Cordray received a text message: Evans had been found. But her students had not.

Officials said several children had been rescued from the rubble of the school, but 75 were still missing.

hailey.branson@latimes.com

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Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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