West residents begin journey home

Officials say area is now safe

Published On: Apr 20 2013 07:09:19 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 20 2013 11:00:26 PM CDT
WEST, Texas -

As people in the city of West continue to recover from the recent plant explosion, some residents were allowed to return to their homes Saturday.

A line of cars stretched nearly a mile long, packed with the lucky few hundreds who were allowed to return home. Not one of them had seen their home since Wednesday night's blast.

Those closest to the blast site, within five blocks, were still not allowed to come back home.

For everyone else, there's a strict curfew. No one in the newly opened area was allowed outside after 7 p.m., officials said.

The death toll from the explosion remains at 14, with 200 people hurt.

Jim Dougherty and his wife said they're not staying. they came back to survey the mess, but with no running water, they'll spend another night in a hotel. They said in spite of that, they feel blessed.

"We are so fortunate that we weren't further north, because the further you go north, the worse it gets," said Dougherty.

In a town hall meeting in West Saturday afternoon, the mayor announced the setup of a mobile hospital. He said children will return to school on Monday, but will be bussed to nearby Connally ISD.

Saturday night as the strict 7 p.m. curfew went into effect for newly opened neighborhoods near the blast zone, there was a blanket of silence. It was a stark contrast to the flurry of activity one saw in West, Texas throughout the day.

For a brief moment Saturday morning, there was a worrisome but erroneous rumor a fire had restarted at the fertilizer plant.

Hogwash, said city leaders.

"It is safe, it is safe, it is safe," said the official.

Even with that assurance, hundreds of evacuees since Wednesday night's chaos have been out of their homes.

Some of those prayers were answered. There was a nearly mile long line of cars, packed with the lucky few hundreds allowed to return home.

A moment of silent survey for those who did make it home. The Dougherty's said they made it out OK, but had broken glass and strange ceiling damage.

"The blast blew me to the floor," said Dougherty.

Really remarkably little wrong considering they weren't sure if they'd make it out alive that night.