Sarah Williams of LSS Disaster Response (LSSDR) has been on the scene and working in West, Texas, following the disastrous explosion of April 18. We appreciate Sarah for her ongoing work in the trenches in West, and for keeping us informed with the following report and update:
Thus far, LSS Disaster Response and St. Vincent De Paul combined have given out $8,400, serving 117 families and 330 individuals total. Forty of these families are unemployed as a result of the disaster, and a high percentage of the single-member households assisted are elderly.
As the numbers probably indicate, we’ve been quite busy for the past couple of days! Yesterday and today have slowed down a little bit, and the type of survivor coming in to the Joint Assistance Center (JAC) has changed drastically. The majority of the people seeking assistance currently seem to be those with injuries, or injured or deceased family members who haven’t been able to make it to the JAC [where LSSDR personnel are established] until now. In addition to providing monetary aid, we have also been called to offer more emotional and spiritual support than in past days, as survivors have been particularly distraught and hurting. We’ve sat down with many survivors, listening to them as they try to work through what they’re feeling right now – and address their grief. We’ve had several come back day after day, just to talk.
Quite unexpectedly, the nurses who worked at West Haven Nursing Home have also been very upset, and we’ve referred several to counseling and psychological services. Of those, many appear to be experiencing symptoms similar to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the evacuation of the nursing home during the fire, in addition to injuries sustained at the same time. They’re also very heartbroken about losing their residents, and many have been driving to Waco and other nursing facilities to visit their residents and check on them. I’m very moved and humbled to witness such love and compassion, and I believe the nurses when they say that at West Haven they were a family.
Note about Volunteers:
Americorps is now coordinating volunteer opportunities. They have already identified people in the community to be ready to enlist help when the time is right. The website for people to sign up to volunteer is volunteertx.org.