Tears, Hugs In West As Large-Scale Demolitions Begin

Jack Fink, CBS 11 News | CBSDFW.COM

WEST (CBSDFW.COM) – They are slowly moving forward in West after the fertilizer plant exploded and leveled homes and neighborhoods.

But leaving part of the past behind is overwhelming for Judy Grusendorf and her 84 year old father.  She says, “I thought it was hard enough to walk up to it the day after it exploded, but seeing it come down, I know a beautiful home is going to be built on it.  I mean just seeing it come down, all the memories that were made growing up, now the grandkids, and great-grandkids.”

Their home is among 50 coming down as part of the largest demolition project to date.

The West First Baptist Church is paying the bill, using $200,000 in donations received from people across the state and nation.

The church’s associate pastor Phil Immicke is organizing the project. “This is our community. It’s our church members.  It’s our neighbors.  It’s our church members’ neighbors.  You know it’s a small town, everyone knows everyone here.  So this is a big deal.”

He says demolishing a house can cost about $15,000, and that homeowners were pleasantly surprised when they found out they wouldn’t have to pay anything to have that done.

Besides the West First Baptist Church, the West Long-Term Recovery Committee will be paying for another 50 houses here in West to be demolished.

Gene Anderson, member of the First Baptist Church, watched as crews tore down the house that belonged to her 85 year old mother-in-law.  “It’s sad because of the memories there, but it’s closure, and I look at it like it’s a new beginning for her.  It’s truly a blessing from God.”

John Crowder is Pastor of the West First Baptist Church.

His home is also going to be torn down.

After the explosion, he helped others cope, before giving himself time to reflect.

Crowder says, “I felt it was important to be a voice of hope, strength, and maybe even courage so I couldn’t deal with my own personal loss. I didn’t give myself permission.”

The demolition gives everyone a chance to rebuild.

For Judy Grusendorf’s parents, easier said than done.

Grusendorf says,  “They thought they’d live here til the end.  We did too.  They’ve got to start over at 83 and 84 years of age.”

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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