The Diocese of Texas reports that Episcopalians in the town of West, Texas, and the surrounding area are shaken but eager to help in the wake of last night’s deadly explosion.The Diocese reports:
As of Thursday morning, reports confirm Episcopalians from West, Texas are safe after the devastating explosion of a fertilizer plant, according to officials from St. Paul’s, Holy Spirit, and St. Alban’s in Waco, just 15 miles to the south. However, countless others have been affected either physically or emotionally.
Late Wednesday night, an explosion from a fire at a fertilizer plant injured more than 150 people and killed between 5 and 15 others. The blast destroyed or damaged more than 50 homes and several buildings, including a nursing home, intermediate school and grocery store. The impact was strong enough to register a 2.1 earthquake.
“It felt like a bomb and sounded like a bomb,” said Joanna Strom, a West resident who is also the parish secretary for St. Paul’s in Waco. “It was like an atom bomb went off. It was insane looking in the sky, like a mushroom cloud. I can’t even describe it to you.”
Strom, who lives a few miles from the fertilizer plant, knew there was something wrong immediately. Her home was far enough away that it didn’t suffer any damage, but she was concerned about her friends.
“I know everyone in West because it’s a small town,” Strom said. “I tried to text everyone I knew. Some of them were ok, and some were unaccounted for. Some people were staying at the local hotel. The problem was that it was total chaos last night. Nobody knew where anybody was, and it was dark.”
Soon after the explosion, the power went out in most areas. And soon after that, the cell phone systems were overloaded. Strom resorted to using Facebook to send out updates to her loved ones.
On Thursday, her husband dropped her off at work and returned to West to try to search for their friends. If she had not recently broken an ankle, Strom said, she would be out there looking too for the people she considers family.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer, that community came together, and they did a fundraiser for me,” she said. “I know everybody there. It is very upsetting to me. It’s like they are my family, and I don’t know how they are doing.”
Read more here. We continue to pray for the victims of this tragedy, their loved ones and all those responding to this tragedy.