What an emotional week our country has had and hitting close to home for our family. The Saturday before last my cousin Candyce was admitted to the hospital for pre-eclampsia and the next day had sweet baby Clifton via c-section. After such a scare, both are doing great and he is expected to come home from the hospital soon. Then, last Tuesday I started showing some signs of preterm labor, and at just a little past 31 weeks, my midwife quickly put me on bed rest. My sis-in-law was nice enough to drop everything and come to my aid on Thursday with the kids. Because bed rest with two toddlers is really quite unrealistic! Before leaving home, she had been instructed by my Mom (who was with a friend in the hospital and unable to join her) to bring the kids back home to her house so I could have another day to rest. Our entire family was heading to the lake on Friday so we could retrieve the kids then.
As we were loading up the kids that night in her car, she received a text message from her sister about an explosion in West. Most of our immediate family lives in Leroy about seven miles east of West (our little joke). However, my sis-in-law's family is in West along with my aunt and uncle and cousins and several aunts in the nursing home. I went to grade school there and we have many friends in the community. Without knowing the severity of the situation, we sent them on their way with promises to update with what they found out. Before they were an hour down the road, the Dallas news was reporting the story and we began to worry. My uncle is on the volunteer fire department and it was quickly confirmed that though he had been at the site, he was OK and still working with others to control the fire. We later learned that he had missed the first page and so was just arriving on scene when the explosion happened and not with the other first responders who lost their lives or were severely injured. He and my cousin had helped pull several to safety upon arrival. We waited late in the night to hear that my aunts were evacuated from the nursing home unharmed and where they had been taken. I was fielding a smattering of texts and emails from people concerned with my family's well being as they had quickly associated me and my home town with what was unfolding on the local and national news. It was all very surreal and heart wrenching.
In the aftermath of Thursday, the town of West has been in a state of mourning and disbelief. Facebook has kept me abreast of what it has been like on a personal level for people who have lost their homes and loved ones. As tragic as it has been, much hope has come out of a horrible situation. An overwhelming response by fellow Texans as well as people all over the country and even world (the Pope tweeted his condolences) has helped join people and resources together for this little town. I loved reading what one Texas politician wrote about the community known for their yearly Czech festival and kolaches, "they will polka again."
I hate being stuck on this couch unable to do much of anything, but I know that there will be plenty of help needed in the future. In the present, if YOU would like to assist the people of West, the best way is by monetary donations. http://westdonations.com/updates/ Thanks to all who have shown their concern.