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Two months after the explosion in West, hundreds of volunteers helping to rebuild

By Jennifer Kendall, jkendall@ktxs.com
Published On: Jun 17 2013 10:44:35 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 19 2013 11:05:35 AM CDT
WEST, Texas -

It's been about 60 days since a deadly fertilizer plant explosion shook the Town of West.

This is the first week volunteers have been allowed to start searching through rubble of what used to be an apartment complex. They've been finding things like books, DVDs and pictures residents thought they might never see again.

"I just wonder how could something like this happen in just a split, split second?" said Willie Zahirniak who lost his home in the explosion.

The blast may have happened quickly, but it will be a long time before the small town recovers.

"This is a marathon not a sprint, so it's going to take us years to get back to where we were," said West Mayor Tommy Muska. 

For people like Zahirniak seeing the destruction hasn't gotten any easier.

"You know it's hard knowing you got to start all over again," Zahirniak said.

Monday, Zahirniak said goodbye to the home he's lived in for 45 years.

"Lived here all my life just about. Now I'm actually too old to be starting over, but what are you going to do?" Zahirniak said.

Zahirniak said the help from neighbors, friends and volunteers is a blessing.

"The people in West have always been a close knit family and all the churches… I can't brag enough about the Baptist Church. In fact, they're the ones that are tearing my house down," Zahirniak said.

But he's also mad that others aren't pitching in.

"President Obama was there.. He promised all of us he would help West. That promise only lasted as long as it took him to get out of Waco," said Zahirniak.  

Last week, FEMA announced they would not be covering damage to West's schools, roads, pipes or sewage system because the event was not a natural disaster.

The Insurance Council of Texas estimated damage to be more than $100 million.

"These people don't want a handout, but they deserve the consideration of our government in this time of need," said Zahirniak. 

Whether or not the government chips in... Zahirniak says the people of West will never give up.

Texas lawmakers vowed Wednesday to try to reverse the FEMA decision. The State has 30 days to appeal.

“Were going to rebuild right here... We're going to stay right here," said Zahirniak.