2013-04-18 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) Rescuers in central Texas are still searching the wreckage after an explosion Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant killed as many as 15 people, and injured more than 160 others. The blast destroyed over 50 homes and an apartment complex, and also damaged a school and a nursing home in the small town of West. A group of volunteer firefighters and a police officer are believed to be among the dead. They had responded to the initial fire call an hour before the explosion.
The town is home to less than 3,000 people, and the disaster is affecting everyone.
“It’s brought everybody together,” said Father Ed Karasek, the pastor of St. Mary’s Assumption Catholic Parish in West. “It’s a very close-knit community. Everbody is related to each other, and they are all supporting each other.”
The Bishop of Austin, Joe Vásquez, said the Catholic Church has been helping since the disaster struck.
“First of all, the priests in that area have reached out to people,” he said. He mentioned many of the injured have been taken to Catholic hospitals in nearby Waco and Temple, where the local clergy have been on call.
“Of course, our Catholic Charities will take a lead role in this as we try to reach out to those who are suffering and hurting and need support and need help,” Bishop Vásquez told Vatican Radio. “It’s going to be monetarily; it’s going to be through prayers; it’s going to be through material goods…that people are going to need.”
The Bishop said the explosion is devastating for the people of West.
“It’s going to have a profound effect on them. People’s lives have been changed,” he said. They have experienced tremendous loss…not only those who have lost loved ones, but those who have lost homes…[and] so many other things. Just the sense of stability and wanting to have a stable life and security. All of those things are going to impact the people of that community.”
He said is confident the community will pull together in the wake of the disaster.
“My expectation is - and I think it’s been already demonstrated - is that people have gone out of their way to support each other,” Bishop Vásquez said. “That’s not just the Church community, but I think the whole community in general has reached out to want to be there for one another especially in this time of tragedy and sadness.”
Father Karasek has served the community of West for over 20 years. He told Vatican Radio what he thinks the people need most right now.
“I think a lot of prayers,” he said. “And if they wanted to make donations, we will see they get to the families who are in need of them.”
Listen to the full interviews by Charles Collins with Bishop Joe Vásquez and Father Ed Karasek: