Woman embraces her cat amidst tornado wreckage

Photo: Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images

Reuniting with loved ones

June Simson embraces her cat, Sammi, after finding him in the wreckage of her home on May 21 in Moore, Okla.

After a monstrous tornado tore through the suburbs of Oklahoma City earlier this week, residents are now returning home to pick up what remains of their lives. Entire neighborhoods were rendered unrecognizable by the powerful EF-5 tornado, which killed 24 people, 9 of them children.

Tearful reunions with beloved pets — including an elderly survivor who miraculously found her dog during a live TV interview — are small but important victories in the wake of a disaster.

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Dogs sit on a table amidst tornado wreckage

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sea of rubble

Two small dogs rest on a table surrounded by debris as residents search for valuables in the wreckage on May 21.

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Men fold up an American flag amidst tornado wreckage

Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Battered yet resilient

Derick Brock (right) from Mercy Chefs, a nonprofit organization that provides meals to victims of natural disasters, helps a man fold an American flag found in the debris of a house devastated by the tornado.

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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.

Moments of hope after the Oklahoma tornado [Photos]
In the midst of devastation, residents of Moore, Okla., find small reasons to be thankful.