It is with heavy hearts that we give our deepest condolences to those who were affected by the explosion in West on Wednesday night. The news releases speculate as to how many people were lost, but there are no exact words to truly express the magnitude of our grief and the grief of those who are lost.
At approximately 7:50 p.m. on Wednesday, a fertilizer plant in West (19 miles north of Waco) exploded and lit up the sky for miles around.
The explosion devastated the immediate area, including houses, a school and a nursing home. According to an email from the office of President Ken Starr, 13 students, 43 faculty and staff and 262 alumni live in or are from West.
Injuries from the blast have ranged from minor to fatal. The small town, and the number of casualties reported so far has rocked the community as well as those at Baylor and in Waco who have close relatives and friends in West.
There is no way to put this tragedy in a positive light. There is no reason we should try.
There are too many unknowns about the explosion and its cause for this to be anything other than a mind-numbing time of grief. The exact number of casualties and how the devastation will affect Waco and the surrounding areas have yet to be determined. We have all taken time to pray for the living and do what we can to keep people informed of the facts.
It is admirable the way Baylor, the Waco community and West have banded together to help alleviate the pain of this tragedy. Blood drives, food drives, shelters, donations, all in the name of unity in the face of unexpected horror. Baylor students and various departments have mobilized to help in relief efforts and some have not left the scene of the explosion since it began. We commend those students, faculty and staff who have taken time out of their day to help where they can and bring a little peace to those who are in need.
There is no doubt that Diadeloso has been marred by this event, and students may find it hard to celebrate this tradition the day after such tragedy has taken place. However, we must remember that we are blessed beyond measure to be able to offer aid and our prayers.
Rather than the superficial partying and lighthearted fun that usually accompany Dia, we are tasked with being strong for our friends who are injured or without homes or who are lost in their grief. Everyone from off-duty firemen and police to students forgoing their usual Dia activities have pitched in.
It is only to provide contrast that we regretfully mention that members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., have decided to protest the funerals of those who died in the explosion. The church is known for its hateful and militant ideologies, particularly against homosexuals.
They have tried to spread their hateful message after almost every tragedy that has occurred in the past few years. Though the church’s hateful messages have no place here in the midst of our grief, we mention it to highlight the powerful contrast this brings into play.
The love that our community and the West community has exhibited has far eclipsed anything the Westboro church could think to conjure. The love of God is no more evident than in times of tragedy and crisis and there is nothing Westboro Baptist Church can do to dilute that.
Instead of Westboro’s hate and any others who may try to politicize this event, focus on loving your neighbor. Donate blood, money, food or any other service you can think of. Every cent and every ounce of blood towards relief counts in this unspeakable tragedy.