The Country Responds To Explosion At West's Fertilizer Plant

Sen. John Cornyn, Sen. Ted Cruz and Mayor Tommy Muska of West [photo from Sen. Cornyn's Facebook page]
The word from the town West right now is that 14 people are confirmed dead, including Dallas firefighter Captain Kenny Harris. That number may grow as Senator Cornyn says 60 people are still unaccounted for. While West attempts to find their feet in the wake of this disaster, the outpouring of support from all over has been heartening.

“Well I’ll tell ya, we’re seeing an outpouring of love and caring across Texas, across the country, across the world.”

Speaking at the site of the West Fertilizer Company explosion senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn were obviously bowled over by the efforts to help that community. But as Cornyn explains, it's still very early.

“But right now, they’re still in recovery mode — search and rescue, excuse me — before they move into recovery mode. Because, as I said, there’s still about 60 people unaccounted for and we need to make sure that everybody who can be accounted for can be properly taken care of.”

On the other side of the search and rescue mission is the coordination of volunteers and donations. That’s being headed up by first responder Shane Valverde from veteran organization Team Rubicon. This is his 13th emergency response mission and the largest by far when it comes to donations and support.

“Even in the middle of all this, even people who’ve lost their homes and everything else, they’ve still come out and helped support and lead their community effort during this tragedy. It’s been overwhelming. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen so many resources focused to assist the community.”

When Sen. Cruz talks about the outpouring from anywhere and everywhere, Valverde says the same applies to the volunteers.

“They’re coming from all over: Washington, Connecticut ... It’s pretty amazing.”

And the media question being asked over and over is how could something like this happen? Sen. Cruz warned it’s a little early to be asking that.

“All of us want to know what happened here: What caused the explosion? What factors made it more likely? I think it would be a mistake to rush to a conclusion before the facts and evidence are assembled.”

And that evidence will be assembled assured Sen. Cornyn.

“However this happened that there will be some lessons to be learned from the investigation and we will be there to support local officials, state officials, with federal assistance to figure out how we can prevent something like this happening again.”

Bio photo of Edel Howlin

Edel Howlin

Producer, Houston Matters

Edel is a producer on Houston Matters and reporter for PBS’s Newshour Weekend...