Forty-one years ago, Janet and J.R. Green called West, Texas home. They were newlyweds living in a little white house next the fertilizer plant, where they forged many fond memories that would last for the next four decades of their marriage.
The Greens never imagined that they would be back in the town of West 40 years later doing casework in the aftermath of one of the worst man-made disasters they had ever experienced.
They had joined the Red Cross as disaster volunteers about two years earlier in Grimes County, Texas, where they now live, and didn’t hesitate to return to West when they got the call to help after the fertilizer plant exploded in the center of town and caused widespread devastation.
“It was the biggest disaster we had ever seen with Red Cross,” said Janet. “We really felt a kinship to West because we had lived there and had friends, and my parents had lived in the area for so many years.”
Amazingly, the little white house the Greens lived in was still standing after the explosion, but after a recent visit Janet discovered it had to be torn down.
The Greens say they have many fond memories in West, and while it was difficult to see their friends and former neighbors hurting they were glad they could be there to help.
“There were so many people that were so hurt and that just kind of needed a hug sometimes. I think they needed that more than they needed anything else,” said Janet.
One year ago this weekend, the Greens spent the day of their 40th wedding anniversary doing casework with the families affected by the West, Texas explosion. They say they couldn’t imagine it any other way.
“You know the 40th anniversary is the ruby anniversary, so there we were with ruby Red Cross.”