54ºF

Recovery efforts underway for residents, businesses impacted by NW Houston explosion

Growing number of residents now suing the manufacturing facility

HOUSTON – Four days later, residents impacted by the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing facility explosion are still scrambling for help.

“I woke up with a big glass in my leg and I had to pull it out,” said resident Celia Ballesteros.

Ballesteros said she woke up to her entire home in shambles. On Monday, she and her family spent their morning at a resource center, the church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints, seeking financial assistance from the American Red Cross.

“We are trying to get help for our house because the windows exploded, the roof is kind of pushed in, the doors fully closed. We are seeing what they can help us with,” Ballesteros said.

Business owners impacted by the explosion said they don’t know where to turn to just yet.

Jacob Casttellon said his business sits right across from the manufacturing facility and the building is damaged.

“Our cars got damaged, so we can’t even move those to try to get any appointments done for any of our customers,” Casttellon said.

A new assessment revealed Monday that a total of 450 structures were damaged. There were 57 affected structures, 358 structures with minor damage and 35 structures with major damage. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo toured the devastation for the first time and says more than help needs to be done.

“We need to advocate for changes at the state level because a lot of these facilities aren’t required to report the chemicals that they have and certainly the fines they face when they violate regulations are just a slap on the wrist,” Hidalgo said.

Attorney Robert Kwok was the first to file a lawsuit on behalf of residents suing Watson Grinding and Manufacturing facility for negligence. Kwok is holding a town hall meeting near the explosion site at Chavez Mexican Restaurant at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

His office has set up an information website for residents with questions: www.watsongrindingexplosion.com