MOORE, Okla. - After darkness fell over this tornado-stricken city on Monday night and Tuesday morning, rescuers confronted a strange and grim tableau.
Trees were wrapped with aluminum and downed powerlines ran over streams from broken water mains. In a city with so many ruined homes - and at least 51 dead after an enormous twister cranked through the southern Oklahoma City suburb - call after call for victims went without answer.
"First responders! Do you need any help?" shouted one nurse who picked through a home without a roof and without a door.
Moore police officials told local television news early Tuesday that "hundreds" of people had been rescued overnight.
Flashlights flicked over mud-spattered walls and lawns strewn with battered vehicles.
Somebody noticed the strong smell of a gas leak. Another searcher then lit a cigarette, and nobody said anything.
The day and night had been long, and the work grim.
"Is there anybody in here? Anybody in here? Hello!"
A strict police cordon around the city during its first night after the twister diverted many gawkers, reporters, volunteers and even emergency officials away from Moore's disheveled interior.
Military troops from multiple branches checked and rechecked storm-blasted homes only to discover nobody, but occasionally recovering ceremonial flags and old police memorabilia for their noticeably absent owners.
Homeowners were among those turned back at the police cordons, and for at least one night, Moore belonged totally to the rescuers.