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Donations, help flow after Texas explosion: 'That's what we do'

April 19, 2013|By Marisa Gerber
  • Volunteers gather at the Best Western in West, Texas, to sort out donations for the victims of the Wednesday night explosion at West Fertilizer Co.
Volunteers gather at the Best Western in West, Texas, to sort out donations… (Ricardo Brazziell / Austin…)

Two days after a fatal explosion shrouded a small Texas town in an eerie plume of smoke, officials still weren't sure exactly how many people had died.

But one thing had become increasingly clear: Texas is a team.

Using a Facebook group called “Prayers for Victims of Waco/West TX Fertilizer Plant Disaster” -- which had more than 75,000 "likes" by Thursday evening -- people offered myriad services.

A local nurse said she could help with search and rescue efforts. Scores of people offered to volunteer at a crawfish boil fundraiser at a motorcycle shop in nearby Waco on Saturday. And some people swapped photos of lost pets, like a droopy-eyed pooch named Molly, in hopes that the online community could help them track down.

“We’re from Texas. That’s what we do,” said Kelly Williams, who drove in from out of town to be with her family in West on Thursday. “People just open up their homes. That’s just what we do here.”

For 75-year-old West native Charlie Ferguson, who is staying with a local priest because he had to evacuate his home, seeing his community step up was no surprise.

"They're a strong people," he said of his town. "They have faith in God, I guess. Gives them strength. They're pulling together."

An explosion tore through a fertilizer plant on Wednesday night, leveling homes and killing at least 11.

On the Facebook page, under a picture of Dallas firefighters searching the remains of a crumbled home in West, were the words of Fred Rogers. It's a quote that had started circlulating on the Internet earlier in the week after the Boston Marathon bombings: "Look for the helpers. You'll always find people who are helping.”

marisa.gerber@latimes.com

Cindy Carcamo and Rick Rojas in West, Texas, contributed to this report.


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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