RESIDENTS of West, the Texas community that was blown apart by an explosion at a fertiliser plant, are receiving assistance from The Salvation Army as they seek to return to their homes. Fourteen people were killed in the disaster, with a further 200 injured. Local authorities report that more than 270 homes were affected by the explosion and resulting fire, including 73 that were completely destroyed.
The Salvation Army is part of a Joint Assistance Center (JAC) in West, which has been set up at a central location where residents can access assistance from a range of relief agencies. Social Services staff from The Salvation Army in Waco will be responsible to process applications from residents and provide support, in the form of Walmart gift cards, counselling and case management.
Disaster canteens (mobile kitchens) formed the main part of The Salvation Army's immediate emergency response, but they still have a role to play. One will remain at the JAC, another will work in the affected neighbourhoods, with a further two units providing support at the community centre and the disaster relief command post. It is anticipated that the canteen services will continue for at least the coming week.
Lisa Wood, who has lived in West for five years with her husband and elderly mother, was one of many people who patiently waited in line to meet with a case manager at the JAC on Monday morning. 'We gathered what we could and evacuated immediately after the explosion on Wednesday night,' she explains. 'We’ve been staying in a hotel in Waco and my husband finally got to see the house for the first time this morning. The windows are all blown out but it’s still standing.'
She told The Salvation Army staff members: 'We are so grateful that you are here to help.'
Monday saw a significant increase in the number of residents served, as many returned to West for the first time since being evacuated. In the first five days after the explosion, The Salvation Army provided 3,645 meals, 3,205 drinks and 1,743 snacks.
Report by Philip Burn
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