WASHINGTON, April 17 -
Mr. Speaker, it was around 8 p.m. last night, as the sun was setting, when in the historically Czech community of West, Texas, families were finishing up supper and winding down the day. Suddenly the tiny town of 2,600 was shaken by a massive explosion at the nearby fertilizer plant, equivalent to 2.3 on the Richter scale. The fiery blast was so strong that it was described by West Mayor Tommy Muska ``like a nuclear bomb going off.''
My daughter and her family were in church in Mexia, Texas, about 50 miles away, when they felt the shock. In fact, three firefighters from Mexia took off then and were headed straight for the town of West. Homes were set ablaze and flattened to the Earth. The senior citizens home has disappeared. Many citizens in the town were trapped in their homes. Others were stranded on the streets, covered with blood and no place to go.
When disaster struck, first responders, firefighters, EMS volunteers, and citizens traveled from all over Texas, headed to the town of West. For those of us in Texas, this is not a surprise. Texans always take care of Texans. In fact, so many firefighters came to West that officials said there were too many, and no more assistance was needed.
Mr. Speaker, hundreds of people are injured. Up to 70 are feared dead. Many are unaccounted for as the police go door to door looking for survivors. So as the misty rain settles on the town of West, our prayers go out to the people of this wonderful community.
And that's just the way it is.