11:30 p.m., April 19 - Praise God! All the families from the West United Methodist Church have been located and are doing ok. As we celebrate that bit of good news, we also continue to grieve with and pray for the families and the community of West as more bodies have been recovered.
Today has been another day of organizing and preparing our teams to come into the community. The word that the community has received is that it will be another 48 hours before any families can get back to their homes. I also had the privilege of visiting with one of the United Methodist couples today who were in their home in the blast zone when the explosion occurred. Thankfully, they were not seriously injured but their home was destroyed.
As we visited with these "seasoned" adults who have two grown daughters living outside the community of West, we talked about their needs and I explained who I am and what my role is for the CTCUMC. I shared with them that we could help them with anything from clearing debris and helping them find their belongings to covering up areas where they thought they might be able recover their belongings. Their eyes lit up and the husband quickly handed me his card. They told me they were just discussing how in the world they were going to able to move the rubble around to see if they could rescue any of their belongings. It was such a blessing to be able to tell them that is what we could do – that we could help them move the heavy debris and help them find their things.
They said our ERT's were answered prayer! I told them they were now officially our first client! They and their daughters were so appreciative and touched.
Another wonderful experience that occurred amidst the confusion and chaos happened was when I walked into the Red Cross building yesterday. I was wearing our conference t-shirt that said United Methodist in Disaster Response - Central Texas United Methodist Conference. The Red Cross people looked at me and then looked at my badge that says UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) and Central Texas and one of the Red Cross people through his fist in the air and said, “Hallelujah! UMCOR is here!" He was thrilled because he knew we always responded and we are here to stay.
It has been a humbling and proud moments to represent God, this conference and UMCOR as we continue to help with the people of West. Tomorrow we officially open our agency care center command post so that residents can come in and sign up for help including with our Early Response Teams and Long Term Recovery for rebuilding.
Blessings and thank you to everyone for supporting West, Texas and serving in the future.