It has been 5 months since my hometown was changed forever by the West Fertilizer Plant Explosion, and I thought I would offer a little update.
At the time, it was so difficult to grasp how the town and people would cope, how people would pick up the pieces and move forward, how things would get cleaned up, how the town would ever be the same again. I think we have all come to learn that things will never be the same, but they are getting better and continuing to do so. This time has had me recalling a visit to Galveston in December of 2008, just 3 months after Hurricane Ike. I was brought to tears when I saw people decorating the ravished homes for Christmas, and thought how in the world do they deal with this. Now, I know, you just do. You do so without thinking, without realizing how strong you are, you just do. My mom, friends, and I participated in the WestFest (our town's Czech heritage festival) Kolache 5000 5k over Labor Day weekend, and the shirts we were given for the event said "You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have" (or something like that), and that statement couldn't be more true. I don't know where the strength of the town, the people, my family has come from but it is there without thinking how.
Most things have been cleaned up by now, the apartments, nursing home, 2 of the 3 destroyed schools have been demolished and cleaned up, and school is now being held in portable buildings....this is the part that really chokes me up. So many kids not only lost their homes, maybe even family members, but their safe place at school as well. I am sadden because my brother and his friends will probably never walk the halls of a real school as a senior and know that sense of pride. However, I hope this time has taught them a new pride. To be proud of their town, townspeople, and people from all over the world that have offered a helping hand.
100s of home have also been demolished or are in the process of being renovated. But there is still so much more to be done. So many people are still waiting fighting for the help from their insurance companies, and other things they shouldn't have to worry more about.
My family has been blessed with a wonderful insurance company. The broker was calling to check on them the very next morning, and several times after that. They had things taken care of within a month. We said our last goodbye to the house in July as it was demolished, and my family is now waiting for a final contract from their builder. They will be building in the same place, and it will be a wonderful new beginning. Though people have lost their lives and I would never trade their lives or the aftermath of this event for a new home, I have tried to look at this as a blessing in disguise. In 2009 my dad became permanently disabled, and could eventually end up in a wheelchair. With this opportunity to build a new home, comes the opportunity to prepare for that time, if it comes.
Now, I know it may seem morbid, but I made a simple scrapbook layout to remember this event (not that we will ever forget). But I felt it so important to document since it has been such a huge part of our lives. It will be a reminder of that day and how far we've all came.