In times of almost unspeakable tragedy, people respond.
On Wednesday night, an explosion at a fertilizer facility rocked the Central Texas town of West – a blast so powerful it registered as the equivalent of a 2.1 magnitude earthquake and so loud that it could even be heard in Wise County as a low rumble.
With images of both the blast itself – captured by local residents on video or cell phone cameras – and the resulting damage and rescue efforts broadcast almost endlessly, people from around the state and beyond rushed to help.
Wise County is no different. Within hours, collection drives were being organized to assist with recovery efforts.
Stylist Jessica Kramer at Jagged Edge Salon in Decatur has organized a drive for supplies like bottled water, diapers, wipes, gauze, rubbing alcohol and peroxide, and non-perishable foods. She and her boyfriend, George Villa, planned to drop off the supplies in West on Saturday.
“We had already planned to go to Austin this weekend. When this happened, we said we are going to stop and take some stuff,” Kramer said, adding that the community response had been great.
Similar drives were organized at The Rock Church in Bridgeport, Weatherford College Wise County and Brookshire’s in Bridgeport. People wishing to donate can do so at the church office 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. Donations can also be made during store hours at Brookshire’s, and Crystal Holt said she would be collecting items at 10 a.m. at the grocery store as well to take to West on Sunday.
Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Terri Johnson collected items for another group of people who also face a grim task: the employees of the local justice of the peace office. Johnson passed along information that McClennan County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace David Pareya, who along with two other justices in the county are working with the removal of victims from the blast zone, had his home destroyed. At least two members of his staff also lost their homes. Their constable’s home was also lost.
Johnson collected items at her office Friday and will bring them to West on Sunday.
Some media outlets were reporting that the city had already received enough supplies. If you’d rather make a monetary donation, Pointwest Bank in West has set up a relief fund. Click on wcmess.com/donate to make a financial donation.
Many people are also wanting to donate blood to help replenish the supply used to treat victims of the explosion. Carter BloodCare is having a blood drive 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 24, at Weatherford College Wise County, 5180 U.S. 380, between Bridgeport and Decatur. To make an appointment, call (361) 230-3344 or visit wcmess.com/blood. If you can’t make that event or if you want to donate sooner, you can go to the donor center nearest you.
Red Cross is also assisting victims and volunteers helping with the recovery. To make $10 donation to relief efforts (not specific to West) text REDCROSS to 90999. More information is at www.RedCross.org/dfw or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. To find information about donating blood through Red Cross, go to www.RedCrossBlood.org.