Red Cross Continues to Support West, TX One Year After Explosion

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"I have witnessed what it means to be 'West Strong,'" said Mark Felton, Red Cross Heart of Texas.

April 17, 2014 marks one year since disaster touched the community of West, Texas. When a fertilizer plant exploded in the heart of the town, 14 people lost their lives, 210 people were injured and 341 homes were damaged. American Red Cross volunteers were on the ground providing help with immediate needs within two hours and have continued to support the community over the past twelve months.

“West is a tight-knit community with deep roots,” said Mark Felton, Executive Director, American Red Cross Heart of Texas Chapter. “We are proud to be one of many organizations working together to support their recovery, now and for months to come.”

In the weeks immediately following the explosion, more than 200 Red Cross disaster workers helped provide shelter, food and comfort to hundreds of families. Workers served nearly 48,000 meals and snacks to residents and first responders, distributed nearly 20,000 comfort and clean-up supplies and provided more than 3,000 health and mental health checks.

In the year since the disaster, the American Red Cross has collaborated with the Long Term Recovery Committee, other non-profits organizations and the community leaders in West to promote recovery and resiliency. In the fall, the Red Cross announced additional $295,000 for long term recovery.

Assistance from the Red Cross includes:

  • Assistance with property clean-up, demolition of damaged structures and replacement of household appliances
  • Crisis counseling to mitigate post-traumatic stress and foster long term health
  • Preparedness initiatives to promote resiliency, including recruitment and training of local disaster response volunteers in West
  • Red Cross funds have supported local mental health professionals who conduct one-on-one counseling sessions with residents multiple times per week. Mental health counseling remains paramount as the community approaches the one-year milestone of the unexpected devastation of their town. As long as there is a need for help in the community, the Red Cross will be there to provide support.

    “The past twelve months have been incredibly difficult, yet the people of West have proven to be resilient time and time again,” Mark Felton said. “From the residents who persevered through the unthinkable, to the first responders who helped in the immediate aftermath, to the Red Cross volunteers who came in from around the nation to help, I have witnessed what it means to be ‘West Strong.’ This community has been through so much together and I know they will continue to push forward together.”

    About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.