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Crossroads residents help after West explosion (video)

By Jessica Priest
April 18, 2013 at 9:01 p.m.
Updated April 18, 2013 at 11:19 p.m.

(ABOVE) A smashed car sits in front of an apartment complex destroyed by an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, as firefighters conduct a search and rescue Thursday. A massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. Wednesday night killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160, officials said.

Wednesday night's fertilizer plant explosion in West is shaking up Crossroads residents who trace their origins there.

The Rev. Michael Lyons, of Ganado's Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church had three browsers open on his computer in the wee hours of Thursday morning, trying to piece together what led to the devastation of a town of nearly 3,000 people.

Lyons called West his home from from 1973 to 1988. His mother, Georgia Lyons, passed away there in December 2011.

"The fertilizer plant - I remember smelling it," he said.

And Mayor Tommy Muska, back then, was just a high school classmate.

Thursday, Lyons held a Mass at a Ganado nursing home where he encouraged residents to remember those affected by both the Boston bombings and the explosion in West, reciting Palm 138:3.

It reads, "I cried out and you answered and you strengthened my spirit," Lyons said.

"That's the first thing. God is always with us. Jesus is always with us. If we forget that, then we are truly hopeless," he said.

Others, meanwhile, were helping out by gathering whatever basic necessities they can to tote to the town in their cars.

Christina Cook, owner of All About the Dress, is accepting clothing, shoes, gift cards, bedding and toiletries for those affected by the blast.

She met her friend Andrea Jones, of West, at a Mrs. Texas International Pageant about a year ago. The apartment Jones shares with her son was leveled.

"There is nothing left," Cook said. "Just a couple little divider walls."

She said the tragedy didn't register until she clicked on a photo from the scene on Facebook.

"I was like 'Holy smokes,'" Cook said.

She regularly drives through West on her way to Dallas for business trips.

Kasie Nors Brannan, 25, of Seadrift, and her mother, Vickki Maddux, 45, of Tivoli, are also collecting donations.

Nors Brannan lived in West off and on and has many loved ones still there. She once worked as a waitress at Czech American, where every face that came in for lunch was a familiar one.

Now a post office employee in Port Lavaca, Nors Brannan vows to make the five-hour commute to West on Monday, helpers in tow.

"I never thought something like this would ever happen," Nors Brannan said.

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