| WACO, Texas, April 20
WACO, Texas, April 20 Edith Nors, 87, has no
hearing aid, no glasses and no dentures.
All three are buried under the rubble at her former nursing
home in West, Texas, destroyed when a nearby fertilizer plant
exploded on Wednesday.
What Nors does have is her life and a new home at The Atrium
Skilled Nursing and Rehab in nearby Waco, which has taken in
about 25 evacuees from the destroyed West Rest Haven and is
expecting a dozen more.
The Atrium's response is one of the good-news stories that
came from the explosion. The site took in dozens of victims,
reuniting roommates and working through the nights to piece
together medication lists and tend to the well-being of West's
most vulnerable residents.
"It's not her home, but it's a good alternative," said Nors'
daughter, Ann Janeke.
The West Fertilizer Plant near the West Rest Haven nursing
home in West, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Waco, blew up on
Wednesday night. The blast killed 14 people, injured 200 and
devastated some 75 buildings.
Officials in the town were making plans on Saturday to let
residents return to their homes in parts of town blocked off
since the explosion.
The blast displaced more than 100 elderly residents from the
West Rest Haven, according to estimates in the local media.
"I was sitting in the chair to watch a movie and all of a
sudden, boom," said Helen Chambers, 87, her blue eyes peering
out from under white hair, her face and arms covered in cuts,
stitches and bruises.
Glass flew everywhere, the ceiling came down, the blinds
flew at her face.
"I thought it was a tornado. It pinned me in," she said. "I
Chambers was taken to a hospital in Waco. When she was
wheeled in to The Atrium the next day, she looked so bad that
administrator Dianne Taylor started to cry.
"I'm getting better," Chambers told Reuters on Saturday,
sitting in a wheelchair in her new room overlooking a courtyard.
"I'm getting my strength back."
In the hours after the explosion, the telephone started
ringing at The Atrium from officials who needed a place to bring
the residents, said Missy Alford, The Atrium's marketing
The 125-bed facility sometimes moved newcomers in to bunk
with private-room patients who did not mind sharing their
spaces. The Atrium also hired former staff workers from the West
Staffers from West managed to find their patients' basic
files with doctors' names, so Atrium workers got on the phone to
doctors and started researching medications.
Among their biggest needs is money for hearing aids,
dentures and glasses. All of them were left behind by dozens of
residents since the blast hit around bedtime for many.
Nors, a widow and lifelong West area resident, remembers
getting into bed, when the blast brought down the ceiling and
knocked her to the floor.
The explosion covered her with asbestos and burned her skin
with chemicals and glass. Nors, a retired homemaker, was sprayed
in the face by the sprinkler system, making it hard to see and
"I'm crying and I don't know what's going on," said Nors,
who has five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
"I'm saying, 'Somebody help me,' but there's so much of
that, people crying and hollering."
All she could see of her roommate of 18 months was a hand
under the wreckage.
Then an unknown young man pulled Nors from the rubble and
rescued her. She suffered only minor bruises and her roommate is
moving into The Atrium, too.
(Reporting By Karen Brooks. Editing by Ian Simpson and Andre