Stephanie Livengood and Laura Captari
One out of every 20. That’s the number of people injured in a small Texas town due to an explosion last night. In West, Texas, first responders arrived on the scene of a small fire at a fertilizer company around 7:30 p.m. Twenty minutes later, the courageous firefighters and emergency personnel became victims of an unexplained explosion. Police Sergeant William Patrick Swanton said, “There is no indication the blast was anything other than an industrial accident.”
With a total population of 2,800, the impact of this tragedy is widespread—5.7% of the town’s population was injured in the blast and .53% killed. It is estimated that at least 160 have been injured, with several in critical or severe condition. With as many as 15 people are feared dead, it is not yet known the exact number of fatalities, as rescue workers are still searching the ruins. One police officer and several firefighters are listed among the missing, and there are several confirmed fatalities among the first responders.
According to a recent news update, “The explosion rained burning embers and debris down on terrified residents. It leveled a four-block area around the plant, badly damaging or destroying up to 75 houses, a 50-unit apartment complex, a middle school and a nursing home.” All 2,800 local residents evacuated the area via school buses and ambulances. If registered as an earthquake, the blast would rank at a 2.1 on the Richter scale.
Authorities report that many people are still missing and worry that residents may be trapped under collapsed houses. Locals face homelessness and great anxiety over the status of missing friends and family. First responders are still working diligently despite the toll on their own forces. When asked what the town of West most needed, Mayor Tony Muska simply answered, “Your prayers.”
At AACC, our hearts break for the crisis and tragedy facing those in West, Texas. In the wake of such destruction, it is easy to become disillusioned and bitter; however, as Christians, we must come together—as churches, communities, families, and friends—to pray on behalf of those who are suffering. Those who are grieving. Those who are working tirelessly to rescue the injured.
Please join us to pray for…
The fact that investigators don’t suspect foul play at this point does not remove the reality or devastation of this situation. In a small town like West, Texas, everyone has been affected. First responders have lost their lives trying to protect their community. Many people are severely injured. A number of families are now homeless. Some grieve the death of a family member or friend as well.
As Christians, it is difficult enough to explain evil acts like this week’s bombings in Boston; however, sometimes attempting to wrap our minds around “accidental” tragedies proves more difficult, because there is no one to blame. In the wake of this week’s national tragedies, we must ground ourselves in the unchanging truths of Scripture: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…” (Psalm 46:1).
God has not forgotten the victims in Texas. He is an ever-present help in their trouble. He hears the cries of those who are trapped in the rubble, begging Him for rescue. He hears the groans of first responders who are exhausted beyond measure and beg Him for strength. He sees the tears of grieving families and the weariness of doctors and medical workers caring for the wounded.
Let us pray without ceasing for God’s mercy and providence…and for miracles.