— By SALLY SEXTON
Disaster may have struck almost 100 miles away, but communities all over Texas, including Weatherford and Parker County, are coming to the aid of West, which experienced the explosion of West Fertilizer Co. Wednesday evening.
The explosion leveled buildings near the plant, injuring more than 100 people and killing between five and 15 people. Crews worked Thursday afternoon to find several more who had been trapped in the wreckage.
Several organizations in Parker County are coming to the rescue, holding blood drives and donation sites.
“We were just talking [Wednesday night] as a team and one player mentioned, instead of sending prayers, to actually get involved and send some stuff,” Jeromy Puckett, owner of the Weatherford Bullets semi-pro football team, said.
The Bullets are working with the Jerry Durant Auto Group, to collect such as bottled water and clothing, shoes, toilet paper, children’s toys, diapers and non-perishable foods.
Donations can be dropped off at Holiday Cleaners, on Palo Pinto Street, or at the Bullets game tonight at Ram Stadium in Mineral Wells. The items will be taken to West Friday night and Sunday.
“People have been dropping by and donating all day,” Puckett said. “We’ve got four to five trailers, and we’d love to fill them all up.”
New River Fellowship and South Main Church of Christ are also accepting donations, including water, Gatorade, food, toiletries, baby wipes, blankets, towels, wash rags and clothing and shoes.
Items may be dropped off at New River from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. today or during Sunday services, or at the South Main foyer of the new building.
Hutch’s Pie and Sandwich Shop will be delivering supplies to West tonight, and are collecting items, including clothing in water, until then.
“I’m from Waco, and it hits close to home, because I know a lot of people in West. We grew up together,” Annabelle Stockton, cashier for Hutch’s, said. “It easily could have been one of my friends or family members, and it could still be.”
Stockton will be transporting the supplies to West tonight, and plans to make another trip down there next weekend as well.
“We’ll take anything,” she said of donations. “And since I’m planning on going back, people can donate all through next week, if they didn’t get a chance to this time.”
Hutch’s is located at 145 College Park in Weatherford.
Blood drives are also going on at the Weatherford Donor Center, 116 E. Interstate 20, Ste. 151, and at the Weatherford Regional Medical Center, 713 E. Anderson St.
Weatherford Regional is holding a mobile blood drive from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today in Classroom 1. To signup, go to ww2.greatpartners.org/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/41689.
Residents can also give blood at the Weatherford Downtown Café, which is offering free breakfast or lunch to all donors, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday. Visit www.redcrossblood.org, sponsor code wdcafe, to schedule an appointment.