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Nursing Home Near Texas Blast: 'Everything Went Flying Everywhere'

Sometimes it seems there's a special place in hell reserved for older people. When disaster strikes, it finds the most vulnerable among us.

Plant Explosion Texas
Rescuers evacuate rest home residents.
Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Heral

Maybe it's because they're often clustered in large groups. Maybe it's because they're less likely to be able to save themselves. And maybe in part it's a numbers game: there's simply more and more senior citizens.

We saw it in New Orleans during Katrina and in the Northeast during Superstorm Sandy. And we saw it again when a fertilizer plant exploded in the little town of West, Texas.

A nursing home stood near the fertilizer plant where fire had broken out. Alerted to pending disaster by firemen, nursing home workers had just begun to evacuate the facility's 133 residents.

"All of a sudden it just blew, I mean, everything went flying everywhere, and once that happened I looked around and debris was just down," nursing home worker Lola Millhollin told the Associated Press. "Everything fell down, the ceiling fell down and the windows blew out."

Disaster can also bring out the best in people. By all accounts, Millhollin, her colleagues and skilled first responders rose to the occasion.

They went back into the damaged building and searched rooms for trapped residents. Many of them were panicked and in shock.

"I helped loosen debris so that we could wheel the ones that were out in the main part first," Millhollin said. "We did the best we could with what we had, and we got them out safely. We were taking them out through broken windows, putting a mattress across the windows so we could get them out without getting them all cut up and stuff."

The explosion killed up to 15 people. The residents of the West Rest Haven nursing home were not among them.


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Credit: Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald/AP Images

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