The massive blast, that measured 2.1 on the Richter scale, was felt as far as 80 miles (130 kilometres) away in Dallas. It is estimated that between 50-75 homes have been damaged or destroyed including a 50-unit apartment complex. More than 170 people have been hospitalized with multiple fatalities at the scene.
As day break arrived on Thursday, the enormity of the task facing first responders became apparent.
Despite overnight pouring rain and rapidly dropping temperatures, The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster response teams have worked tirelessly since the early hours of Thursday morning to provide support to survivors and local law enforcement as search and rescue teams checked houses and apartments throughout the city of only 2,800 residents for survivors.
The Disaster Canteens from various locations in North Central Texas, each with the capacity to feed up to 2,500 meals each day, were strategically positioned in the area; at the West Community Center, St. Mary's Catholic Church, the Command Post and two units at the Emergency Operations Center, closest to the blast site.
Major Dan Ford, Incident Commander for The Salvation Army, said, “The Salvation Army is working hard to support the first responders and citizens of West, with food and spiritual counseling services. We lift up our hearts with the prayers of our fellow Texans for the hurting of this tight knit community.”
Since arriving in West, The Salvation Army has provided 1,623 hot and cold meals, 1,211 drinks (coffee, soda, juice and water) and 442 snacks. This assistance will continue for the foreseeable future as The Salvation Army is committed to supporting the residents of this community as they return to their homes and begin rebuilding their lives.
Alvin Migues, Emergency Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army in Texas commented, “The Salvation Army counts it a privilege to be able to serve the people of West and first responders involved in this tragedy and we pray for everyone involved. We look forward to helping wherever possible with continued food service, emotional and spiritual care, and prayer.”
For more information about The Salvation Army's disaster response effort, please go to www.Facebook.com/SalvationArmyTexas, www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org or www.salvationarmytexas.org. To see more photos of The Salvation Army serving, click here.