United in adversity: West, Texas, prays for Boston, which sends pizzas to West
As refugees in West, Texas waited to return to homes devastated by a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant, their talk, concern, and prayers turned to the terrorist attack in Boston. 'I've never been to Boston,' one Texan commented, 'but now I really want to go. It seems like a cool city.'
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To some, the rise of smart phones and constant contact exacerbated the rough week, pouring endless details, analysis, and opinion into the country's bloodstream. "There's no place to run, no place to hide," Dr. Stuart Fischoff, a media psychologist, observed to the Associated Press. "We're dealing with future shock on a daily basis."Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Explosion at a fertilizer factory in West, Texas
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But if newfangled devices and shoot-from-the-hip media excited the masses, it also appeared to solder together at least parts of America's social and class fissures, including the blue-red state divide between rural Texas and urbane Cambridge and Boston. Along with tragedy came stories of hope and heroes, and regular Americans doing their best to help each other, no matter their differences.
Seen one way, the human drama in West was as shattering as that in Boston, with nearly half the city's volunteer fire department killed and scores of others injured and killed. But out here in America's beef-grazing country, the prospects of terror attacks in Boston, a major American city in lockdown, and a successful manhunt understandably inspired equal outpouring of support, prayers, and new ideas of how to reach across geographical and cultural divides.
"I've never been to Boston," one Texan commented, "but now I really want to go. It seems like a cool city."
The two disaster areas shared more direct contact, as well, this week.
As doctors in Waco's Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center attended to dozens of people injured in the West explosion on Wednesday might, a large order of pizzas suddenly appeared. "... from one doc to another, 'Thanks for all your hard work,'" a note said.
UPDATE Saturday 5:00 pm
Having rushed out of their homes after the explosion, some in stockinged feet and with just the clothes they wore, residents were allowed on Saturday to begin coming back into the bomb-blasted area.
Frustration had increased as officials responded to a series of small fires near the plant, a result of chemicals spilling out of another tank. But determining the situation "safe, safe, safe," Mayor Pro Tem Steve Vanek announced the return on Saturday afternoon, and residents began to filter in to start cleaning, filing insurance claims, and looking for pets.
As the town prepares a memorial for the 14 residents lost in the conflagration, Mr. Vanek acknowledged that opening the neighborhood up once again for habitation became a major step in the town's recovery.
"It's a big step, but it's also a small step," he said. "We have a ways to go."