Reporting Bud Gillett
WEST (CBS 11 NEWS) - WEST (CBS 11 NEWS) – Some Central Texas charities are stepping in to help the people in West. Thursday afternoon, the town announced the Waco Foundation will handle all monetary donations designated for the town and its citizens.
The foundation is a 55-year-old group that helps organize other charities, which frequently trust the foundation with their funds.
Steve Vanek, West’s Mayor Pro Tem, expressed confidence in the organization.
“They know what they’re doing and when you want something done right you call a professional,” he said.
Vanek says West’s Town Council has no expertise in identifying needs or funding them.
“This is something very new to us and it is very important to have them in there because they are the big boys on the block.”
Two other charities, The Cooper and Rappaport Foundations, have donated 20 thousand dollars each, bringing the total to 270 thousand dollars. That total does not include donations to the Salvation Army, the Red Cross or local bank trusts.
Ashley Allison, director of the Waco Foundation, says it’s important for all cash donations to be processed through a central clearinghouse.
“I think that’s the only way to get it one place, and for the community of west to actually know that it’s there.”
The town and the foundation say it’s too early to assess individuals’ needs and spend the money wisely. At last count, more than 70 homes in West are too unstable to live in and 150 more are damaged.
Resident Carol Cole listened to the presentation with mixed emotions. She says she needs help now.
“My house is really bad. It’s not liveable, we’re having to find somewhere to go.” She rented her home and says her landlord had no insurance. And since she doesn’t live in zone-3—the hardest hit area—she claims can’t get help.
“I’ve gone everywhere, we can’t get no help, we can’t get no answers,” she told CBS 11 News.
Earlier Thursday, inspectors took a select few pool reporters into the blast site to document its cleanup. Telemundo’s Yezmin Thomas was there.
“It was really sad. It’s like everything was destroyed,” she told CBS 11 News. Thomas says workers inside are picking up the pieces, sweeping debris, moving hunks of concrete, trying to see how the fire started. “It humbles you,” she said of the experience. “Total destruction, still smells like chemicals, like burns. There are houses right in front of the plant that are gone.”
Residents have coped in different ways. One is to spray paint messages on their damaged homes. Some are sullen, bearing “Keep out” signs. Others are more whimsical. “For sale, very nice,” said another. Many echoed this sentiment, “Thank you to our heroes of West.”
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