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West, Texas Marks One Year Anniversary of Explosion

A year after a fertilizer plant explosion rocked the tight-knit city of West, Texas, a lot of the physical damage is cleaned up, but the emotional scars still run deep.
year after a fertilizer plant explosion rocked the tight-knit city of West, Texas, a lot of the physical damage is cleaned up, but the emotional scars still run deep.

"It's been the hardest thing that most of us will ever face in our lives," said John Crowder, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in West. Crowder was one of dozens of residents whose home was flattened by the April 17, 2013, blast.

"But we've made remarkable progress."

Fifteen people, mostly volunteer firefighters, were killed, and more than 200 people were injured. Schools and a nursing home in the small community north of Waco were leveled, with witnesses describing the horrific scene as looking like a war-zone bombing site.

A year later, about 70 homes that were wrecked have been rebuilt or are in the process of construction, the Associated Press reported. Students displaced from West's decimated high school and middle school are expected to be in their new schools by 2016, with rebuilding progress finally made after initially being stalled by unexpected paperwork and federal red tape.

"There's a lot of construction going on, and for us, that's good. We love the sound of hammers and saws and all that," Crowder said. He expects to move back home in a few months; in the meantime, he and his family have been living in a double-wide trailer for the past year that deacons of his church provided.

Crowder decided to put a plastic-wrapped Bible in the foundation of his rebuilt home before the cement was poured in.

"We put an electrical outlet in the floor four feet from where the Bible is, so I'll always be able to tell from the electrical outlet where that Bible is," he said. "The idea is that for us, scripture is the foundation of our lives and so that's a great way for us to symbolize that by making it the foundation of our home as well."

Thursday night, the community of 2,800 will hold a moment of silence at 7:51 p.m. local time — the exact moment the West Fertilizer Co. exploded amid a raging fire there — in an important journey in the healing process, Crowder said.

Read more: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/west-texas-marks-one-year-devastating-explosion-n82956
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