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West Residents Need Our Prayers, Support

After Explosion Devastates Community

?Please, please ask people to pray for us. Oh, yes, please pray for us. We need prayer. We all need prayer. Everybody here is suffering,? said an individual in the City Hall of West, Texas on Monday, April 22. The speaker wished to remain anonymous but was very emphatic about pleading for prayer.

So, please, readers, pray for the people of West, Texas. With heartfelt sincerity, pray for their economic and physical recovery, healing, and spiritual comfort as they bury their dead and try to cope with the terrific losses and injures they have suffered.

With 14 confirmed dead on Sunday and another casualty reportedly found on Monday, with approximately 200 people injured, with businesses and homes leveled or destroyed in an area of several blocks by an explosion that literally rocked the area like an earthquake, the tragedy last week in West was more than horrific. It was, quite simply, completely devastating to the small town and to the surrounding towns that lost firemen or EMT?s who perished as they helped with battling the vicious blaze and trying to save lives. The people have lost loved ones, homes, businesses, jobs, possessions, and in many cases, everything.

While much of the media and the nation focused on the bombing in Boston, the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas was almost glossed over and received comparatively little attention, yet the damage and carnage there seemed greater than in Boston. It appeared, for a while, that only Texas media and Texas government was really covering the absolute calamity in West.

It was only after the Boston bombers were no longer a threat, that the focus of the national eye turned toward West, although the town itself had been almost immediately filled with emergency workers, firemen, first responders, military personnel, disaster relief teams, and ordinary citizens from many areas of Texas all wanting desperately to help in any way they could.

On Thursday, a memorial for the casualties of the explosion will be held in Waco at Baylor University?s Ferrell Center, which seats about 10,000 people. President Barack Obama and other dignitaries are scheduled to attend. Doors open at 1 p.m. and the service begins at 2 p.m.

The blast was so strong that it was felt and heard in Teague, Fairfield, and Mexia. Anita Boston, who lives between Mexia and Groesbeck, said her house shook and windows rattled when the explosion occurred. Dave Chillcoat, with Edward Jones Investments of Mexia, said that he and his wife, Karen, where in their yard when they heard the boom and their doors and windows rattled. In Teague, Melodye Brown stated that the chairs she and her granddaughter were sitting in swayed and rocked as she described the explosion?s tremors felt at her residence. Nora Carroll, of Fairfield heard the explosion that sounded to her somewhat like a really bad and loud crash of thunder. None of them could imagine, at that time, what had happened.

Texans are rallying around their neighbors in West. The Red Cross, SBTC (Southern Baptist of Texas Convention) Disaster Relief Teams and Chaplains, an HEB food preparation trailer, Texas DPS personnel, first responders, Texas Task Force search and rescue teams, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas military forces, Texas National Guard, and the Texas Education Agency are only a few of the many people and organizations that are on the scene to assess the damage, to provide guidance, to feed the devastated people, to provide showers and laundry service, to clear debris, to comfort, and to help in any way possible.

Other groups are trying to help in other ways.

On April 19, the Teague Volunteer Fire Department joined with the Rotary Club to have a ?Pulled Pork Lunch,? where $2,900 was raised for the families of fallen firefighters, said Fire Chief Joey Bodine.

On Saturday and Sunday the volunteer firemen in flint and Gresham, small towns near Tyler, Texas, stoods on street corners seeking donations. they raised $47,000 which will go towards helping the families of the lost and injured firemen.

And the list goes on. People are doing whatever they can because they care.

So much has been donated in the way of clothing and other goods that the Waco-McLennan County Emergency Management Office Office?s Incident Command Post on site in the City of West has issued a request: ?The outpouring of donated goods from across the state and nation has been overwhelming and greatly appreciated, however at this time no additional items are needed. People interested in helping the people of West during the recovery process are asked to make financial donations to recognized institutions instead of sending items.?

Donations should specify that they are for the victims of the West explosion and can be sent to any one of the following:

_ Point West Bank, 200 West Oak Street, West, TX 76691; phone 254-826-5333.

_ State National Bank, 100 N. Main, West, TX 76691; 254-826-3741.

_ West Fire Department, City Hall, 110 N Reagan St., West, TX 76691, 254-826-5110

_ Waco/Cooper/Rapaport ? Foundations in Waco that have set up a fund that is accepting tax-deductible donations for West. On-line donations can be made at www.wacofoundation.org or more information on a mailing address can be obtained from Waco Municipal Information Services, PO Box 2570, Waco, TX 76702-2570, phone 254-750-5636.

And, no matter which way you choose to help, remember that fervent request: ?Please, please ask people to pray for us. Oh, yes, please pray for us. We need prayer. We all need prayer. Everybody here is suffering.?

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