I want to give you the latest I have on the tragedy in West, TX. We are in communication with the State Dept. of Emergency Management and other volunteer organizations (VOAD) on a daily basis. Residents have been let into the damaged areas temporarily but not volunteers.
No donations of goods, clothes, water, etc., are needed; the city is overwhelmed with in kind donations. However, donations of blood and cash are welcome. Volunteers are not allowed into the area yet and there are many waiting to go in so I don’t think we’ll need volunteers initially. Do not go to West to volunteer unless requested; they are overwhelmed with spontaneous, unaffiliated volunteers which causes more problems for an already overwhelmed small city. The Red Cross and Salvation Army are assisting families with shelter, food and gift cards as are other agencies. Several organizations have sent chaplains and counselors. Also, several agencies have shower trailers and laundries on site so I haven’t offered our shower trailer. A Joint Assistance Center has been established to ensure the needs are met and to avoid duplication of effort. They interviewed over 60 families yesterday.
Jeff Hatton, TE, Redeemer PCA, Waco, volunteered as a chaplain and provided counseling with the family of Joey Pustejovsky, a volunteer firefighter and City Clerk, West, TX, who lost his life in the explosion. Joey, who with his wife, Kelly, have 4 children between 4 and 15. Jeff developed a very good relationship with Kelly and the extended family. They are not members at Redeemer but there are members from West as well as members’ relatives who live in West. The city has asked the local churches in the surrounding area (Waco is about 18 miles away) to sponsor families. Redeemer, Waco, would like to sponsor this family.
Initially, Redeemer would help with the clean up as the home was badly damaged, help with immediate needs, and eventually help with other unmet needs which may include rebuilding. We are working with MNA to set up an account to handle donations. Do not send in kind donations to Redeemer and please limit your phone calls to them. Call or email me if you need information or have questions.They are inundated with although well meaning calls, they are being overwhelmed as well.