Central Texas Teams Assess Damage & Share in the Spirit of West

by Rev. Laraine Waughtal, CTC Disaster Response Coordinator
The work of the assessment teams continues in West. Today, 14 Early Response Team (ERT) members came from Bluff Dale and Morgan Mill to help in the assessment process as we work to help the families who have registered with us for assistance. We’ve also had a team from Mansfield come earlier in the week and a team from Burleson is scheduled to arrive on Monday, May 6 to do tarping and covering windows. The Ovilla team is on standby. The process is going slow for assessment and some things are on hold as we wait FEMA to make their decision on individual assistance. What the homeowner can receive would be impacted if we did anything but clean up and protection of property at this point. 
While the teams were very busy with their assessment work, they also spent a lot of time listening to the miraculous stories of those we are there to help – so many stories, so many folks thankful because it could have be so much worse. 
Much of our work so far has been in Zones 2 and 3. So many of the homes in these zones are either condemned or may still be condemned (if you’ll recall, Zone 3 is the one closest to the blast and saw 154 of 157 homes destroyed). The pictures on the news and internet simply do not do justice to the damage nor to the lives that are changed forever. Yet, even amidst the devastation, the spirit and sense of humor of the people of West is shining through. One home is spray painted with the words: “Home For Sale. Nice Home.”  Another one posted a sign reading “Garage Sale!”  Another one had a wonderful message of help on the home saying, "Your dog has been found.  Contact...." 
When I entered FUMC West today, Pastor Jimmy shared something the church had recently received in the mail. It was a letter from a family who had been asked by their young son if there were any churches left standing in the town of West. The boy had heard that many of the people had lost their homes and everything in it. When the parents told him that there were still churches in West, the boy ran to his room and brought out his “Sunday shoes” and told his parents he wanted to donate them to a little boy in West. So, the parents sent them to the church in West. 
The story brought tears to my eyes thinking about that little boy and his generous heart. God bless him and all those who are letting the light of Christ shine through the darkness of this event.