Nothing could have prepared the residents of West, Texas – population 2,800 – for the deadly explosion at the West Fertilizer Company plant that leveled their entire town on the night of April 17, 2013. Fifteen people were killed, including 12 first-responders; more than 200 others were injured; and the blast, which the Mayor of West said was “like a nuclear bomb went off,” destroyed more than 500 homes.
Tzu Chi Dallas has been part of Texas VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) since 2006, and our volunteers rushed to aid survivors of the tragic explosion in this tiny rural town, 76 miles north of Dallas.
While the West Police and West Fire Departments were in the midst of emergency operations, our volunteers contacted local government officials to offer support and plan our disaster relief distributions, which began on the third day after the blast.
For three consecutive days beginning April 20, our volunteers distributed cash cards and blankets, and offered their comfort and love to those affected. Many were still in shock after what had occurred and needed someone to console them and share their pain.