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Port Neches explosion displaces Texas families on Thanksgiving

by Cornerstone Credit Union League | Dec 03, 2019

Three injuries reported with no fatalities.

An initial blast occurred in Port Neches, Texas, early Wednesday morning at approximately 1 a.m. Residents were awakened to shattered windows, car alarms sounding, doors blown in, and shattered debris.

“We quickly learned that one of the local refineries had experienced an explosion,” said Christa Hollier, president/CEO of Golden Triangle Federal Credit Union. “Authorities quickly went door to door in a half-mile radius, calling for an immediate evacuation. Fear and anxiety set in for our community.”

Port Neches Explosion
A refinery in Port Neches, Texas, experienced an initial explosion early Wednesday morning.

Hollier continued, “By daybreak, families were exhausted from a sleepless night but started trying to secure their homes. We quickly learned of major damage to homes and businesses.”

The media had constant coverage and tried to keep residents aware of activities. Road blocks were placed, and the uncertainty of more problems loomed.

Port Neches Firefighters
Firefighters work to contain fires resulting from a refinery explosion in Port Neches.

The sky was filled with black smoke, and firefighters and first responders we’re working hard to get things under control.

“Although we tried to keep things normal, at around 1:45 p.m., we heard another major boom,” said Hollier.” One of the towers had fallen, rocketing into the air before landing.”

Within an hour, an evacuation was called for a four-mile radius of the refinery. This included Port Neches, Groves, Nederland, and parts of Port Arthur.

She continued, “Fear was now extremely high. They had been putting foam on the fire for more than 12 hours and trying to cool the spheres. The firefighters were concerned because if they couldn’t control the fire, there might be catastrophic issues.”

“So now we were facing running from our homes without knowing what to expect,” said Hollier. “Thanksgiving Day was not as traditional or normal for anyone. But we all were extremely grateful for our blessings.”

Although three refinery employees were injured from the initial blast, no one was killed.

Port Neches Road Blocks
The sky was filled with black smoke; road blocks were set up; and families were evacuated within a four-mile radius of a local refinery following an explosion.

According to the latest news reports, another distillation tower toppled late Saturday. Area residents were cleared to return to their homes on Friday, and officials said the fire continues to be contained and that the falling tower had no impact outside the refinery facility.

The Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation

The Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation is able to respond to disasters because of credit unions' commitment to "people helping people." Working together with affected credit unions, funds are distributed directly to those credit union staff and volunteers in need, so they can stabilize their lives and continue to serve their members. Disasters are identified as fire, wind, hail, or flood damages to an individual’s home or vehicle.

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