Homes starting to be demolished in West - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Homes starting to be demolished in West

WEST - Work crews funded by a church are beginning an effort to knock down 50 unlivable homes in West, where a fertilizer plant explosion devastated the town.

The First Baptist Church of West has committed $200,000 to demolition efforts. Crews had cleared the foundation on two homes Wednesday and were planning to start a third.

"Many people are tired at looking at the rubble, what used to be their home, this is not just a bulldozer effort, we're trying to help people rebuild- this is the first step in that rebuilding process," Phil Immicke with the local First Baptist Church said.

More than a month after the deadly explosion at West Fertilizer Co., many of the homes damaged in the blast remain standing. Immicke says that as he talked to people affected, the need for help with demolition became apparent.

Immicke says the recovery effort is progressing slowly. However, after three weeks of work, they are now able to start bulldozing homes.

"I compared it to Christmas morning to one of the guys. Watching the tractors do what they do, not to see someone's home demolished and destroyed but the beginning of the rebuilding process," Immicke said.

The city permit process also takes awhile with many checklists to go through before a home can be cleared for demolition.

"There's about a ten step process to be able to tear one of these houses down. Getting the water lines disconnected, the air conditioning disconnected, the electricity disconnected, all the sewer lines disconnected, and we're taking care of all of that for the homeowner," said Butch Moore, the on-site coordinator for the Texas Baptist Men.

While it is hard for many to see their homes demolished, many say it's like wiping the slate clean. One 86 year old resident did have her daughter-in-law pick up a brick from her home. Gene Anderson says her mother-in-law will write the date of the explosion on the brick and keep it to remember what she lost.

"It's sad but it's closure and it's time for new beginning and we're really blessed," Anderson said.

The Texas Baptist Men say they can demolish about two a day and will cover 50 homes in the next month.

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