Ten families from the congregation in West had their homes damaged or completely destroyed. Included in that group was the preacher. His house was three streets from the explosion.
Again, if these brethren and the people in the community hadn’t been at worship on a Wednesday night, the death toll and the injured victims would have been even more staggering.
Houses to be bulldozed, no entering allows
His house may never be entered again. They were told it may be weeks if ever that they release the homes for people to go gather possessions such as wedding photos, memories, special items, and whatever could be salvaged. They have several fears including the collapse of the structures as even the ones that are standing have much structural damage. The preacher’s house is almost leveled with the exception of the front of the house. They also fear chemical residue on the debris.
There is also a fear of fire or other injuries related to the damage. So they may not ever be allowed in their homes, and the preacher’s house and others like it are probably going to be bulldozed without the families being allowed to enter. They have basically lost everything.
Second, if we want to help with any of the construction or other issues, we have to go to the website listed below and register with the government. They aren’t going to allow just anyone into a scene like that and they want to make sure everything is organized and coordinated.
So if and when the church calls us and are ready for workers to come help the brethren, we will have to register first. The elders have my number and we are connected on Facebook so that when they are ready for physical labor, they will call me.
Third, there has been an overwhelming support from the brotherhood and the USA in general. The elders said that they are receiving much help financially and are able to use the funds to help brethren and the community as people need food, clothes, places to live, and much more. Right now they are meeting these requests but fear that in a period of 2-3 weeks the workers, corporations, and media will pull out and at that time both the labor and finances will be needed even more.
While we gave our goods to the community relief effort, going forward our financial contributions will be earmarked specifically for the church.
Fourth, the preacher has received a great deal of aid. A Christian brother has offered the preacher a home to live in for one year for free. The school the kids went to had a fund raiser and bought them new furniture. It is my understanding that they will need clothes and a washer/dryer but everything else has already been taken care of by brethren.
I am guessing he will have a washer/dryer before the weeks out, considering the way people are pouring out generosity. It might be nice to consider getting him a gift card at a suit store or a general department store where he can purchase a good suit, like Dillards, JC Penney, Sears, or Men’s Warehouse, as finding a suit off the rack can be difficult at times. Also, his wife and kids will probably need Sunday clothes and finding modest dresses can be a chore too. Just something to think about.
Owners of plant provided service
Fifth, the Adair family that owns the plant is described as a loving family that pour out their lives for others. He will give you his shirt off of his back. He bought the plant 9 years ago and has put every dime back into the business to build it up, remodel and make it a productive business for the community. It is my understanding that had he not bought it, the farmers in the area would have had a real problem with getting their fertilizer and chemical needs met. As a farmer, he met that need by keeping the business open and has not profited from it. It was a service.
There have been a few lawsuits filed, but the elders tell me it isn’t from the people in the community who grew up there. They all love the family and have been super-supportive. (Remember being above reproach and having a good reputation in the community, this man has it; he is known and loved by all.)
The latest report from the elders is below. It is very likely that in a couple of weeks, going forward for months, they will need more help in service, finances, and laborers.
I was telling someone earlier that I wish I had a food truck or trailer. Since others are pulling out, and only one agency is still there (a group of chefs that serve support people and first responders, and maybe victims in this instance), I would love to be able to set up a kitchen and serve food, having all the years of experience in feeding many people would come in handy. I know that the brethren throughout Texas would help pay for the food.
But I am almost certain, finding a kitchen that would allow me to use it as a commissary, having a location that would allow me to set up and use its water, waste, and power, and getting the city to approve it while they are all running around like chickens with their heads cut off with more pressing things, I bet it would be very difficult to get a permit. Anyway, I will be glad to go down to help with physical labor just as soon as the elders call and say they are ready.
Church of Christ at West, Texas, evening update
We had another busy day. We had lots of volunteers, lots of donations, and lots distributed. We are continuing to help the community with food, dry goods, and financially. God has blessed us with the ability to get this done.
The son of our dry goods coordinator said to me that too many volunteers are not enough. He is right; we still need more. There is a huge amount of donations to be sorted, packaged, etc. If it were me, I would be overwhelmed. However, they just keep right on working. Huge thanks.
Thanks again to Mike with Disaster Assistance Church of Christ for the sack lunches.
I will not try to be exhaustive on the names, or I will leave a key person out. Thanks to all the donors and volunteers.
Update as to what dry goods we need and do not need:
1. Hold off on bringing more clothes until Monday. We have enough right now, and need to get ahead of the curve on sorting, etc. So, hold off for a while and then start back on clothes next week. (They will need clothes starting Monday.)
2. We need:
a. Contact lens solution
b. Disposable dry wash cloths
c. Rubber hair ties
d. 4 x 4 adhesive wrap bandages
e. Cotton balls. (They needed two battery powered lanterns too but that was met this morning.)
Please pray for Brenda. She did not get time to stop for lunch today. I know she is under heavy stress.
Bruce and I are meeting with property adjusters this coming Wednesday. They are offering their services to members of our church first. If they can, they may do the community at large after that. They are retired pros. They can help with claims, etc. to make sure that you are getting treated fairly by the insurance company adjusters. They were recommended by the family of one of our dear members who had her house damaged.
We have professional counselors here wanting to provide counseling assistance to those who need it. Contact Ernie at the church at 254-826-5252 to see their schedule. Please use this service if you need it.
If you are construction contractors wanting to volunteer, there is a web site that you need to go to and get registered for lack of a better word. It is http://www.volunteertx.org/. We will get back with you when we know our needs. I talked to one government worker today who said it MAY be weeks before we can get in to do any of that kind of work. He thinks that the heavily damaged houses will be bulldozed. We probably have some of those. We may have some that are repairable. We will try to keep you posted.
May you have the peace that passes understanding. It is pretty awesome stuff. Love, Tom