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Displaced by Deadly Blast, West Residents Rebuilding, Moving Back Into Their Homes

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
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WEST (CBS 11 NEWS) – In only eight days, Steven Kuchera, his wife Stephanie, and twin 17-year-old sons Jackson and Nick will be moving into their new home in West.

Kuchera says, “It’s just a blessing we’re able to come back.”

They’re re-building after the fertilizer plant caught fire and exploded nearly four months ago.

Even though the blast was about a mile away, it destroyed their old house and dozens of others on street after street.

Kuchera says, “It is a do-over.  This is exactly how our den was, except it didn’t open to the kitchen.”

And slowly but surely — West is putting itself back together again.

As we drove down the streets, we found the 120 homes that were destroyed, have now all been demolished and cleared away.

Donations that poured into area churches and Baptist organizations helped pay for the massive clean-up.

The apartment complex, intermediate school, and nursing home are all gone too.

West Mayor Tommy Muska worried many families would pack up and move out of the city for good.

Now, he says there are now 80 building permits for new homes to go up.  “It’s exciting.  The houses are down and now, people are building.  It’s got great potential.”

The Kuchera family considered moving to another town, but in the end chose to stay in West, along with many of their neighbors.

Jackson and Nick Kuchera can’t wait to move back into their own rooms.

They’ve had to share a room in an apartment, which was tough at first.

Jackson Kuchera says, “We beat each other up quite a bit. We’re not really used to being close to each other.”

The Kucheras say there’s something even more important to their family than re-building and watching other homes go up on their street.

Steven Kuchera says his sons have “both been more responsible. Going through this, it allows you to grow as an individual.   Cherish your life, and cherish the time you have here because all these things we spend money on, they’re material and they really don’t matter.”

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