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Texas State University student says her family among 'lucky ones'

April 18, 2013|By Christine Mai-Duc
  • A flag is flown at half staff in West, Texas, near the fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday night in the town of 2,800.
A flag is flown at half staff in West, Texas, near the fertilizer plant that… (Ron Jenkins / McClatchy-Tribune )

April Puckett logged onto Twitter just 10 minutes after a massive explosion rocked her hometown of West, Texas.

Puckett, a 19-year-old freshman at Texas State University in San Marcos, began seeing friends’ pictures of a looming mushroom cloud that had formed over the tiny central Texas town.

She immediately got in her car and made the two-hour drive north to meet her family.

Her mother and sister had been watching television in the living room of their home, less than half a mile from the plant, when the explosion hit. The force of the blast broke every window in the house, knocked knick-knacks off their shelves and flung the kitchen and bathroom doors open.

Puckett’s 10-year-old sister described it to her like a scene out of a movie. “She said she kind of felt like the house breathed in a big breath, and then it was slow motion all of a sudden. And then glass just showered down on them.”

Puckett’s mother, Claudia, walked outside to find neighbors lying on the ground, knocked down by the force of the blast. “They just flew backwards,” she recalled her mother saying.

The wind gusts that swept through were favorable to their home – it was untouched by fire.

But when they returned to clean up Thursday morning and gather some belongings, Puckett said, she found shards of glass wedged into living room walls, flung with such force that they were sticking straight out.

“That just put my stomach in knots,” she said. 

April said all her immediate family is safe and accounted for. But she’s heard of several family friends whose houses have been flattened or whose relatives are still missing.

“It’s just amazing,” she said. “My family’s house is just one of the very fortunate ones.”

ALSO:

West Fertilizer Co. had spotty regulatory history, records show

Many shelters empty as Texas evacuees seek out friends and family

Texas fertilizer plant explosion: A living 'nightmare,' governor says

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