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West church services bring hope after surreal week

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Sunday morning, the people of West packed into church for a little encouragement after a week that no doubt has changed them all forever.


At St. Mary Church of the Assumption, Bishop Joe Vasquez led the 10:30 mass, telling parishioners that healing is something that takes time. You can't expect to immediately move on after something like this happens.

"Take patience, take moments with one another. There's gonna be moments that are gonna come back, maybe moments of anger that are gonna flair up. All of that is part of what it means to be human," Bishop Vasquez said.

We asked church-goers as they were walking out what they got out of the Bishop's message and how they're dealing with the surreal situation.

"It's very emotional. We just all brought together and the message here in church was basically that through God we'll get through this," said Dennis Hovbee.

"We've lost those that were here last Sunday. They weren't here today. And there are children that are fatherless that their boys go to school with and our kids attend. It's gonna be hard tomorrow," said Rebecca Gullopo.

"It's hard, you know. Buck Utmore, he put in the fence on my property. Just a great man. He lost his life, his wife is widowed and he has little children that's left behind and that's just an awful thing," said Ron Gullopo.

After church, many went home...others couldn't go home.

Robert Boles is one of those people that could go, but he can't stay. Even though his home looks okay, it's actually severely damaged.


"Oh yeah, we've gotta move. Deemed uninhabitable, knocked the house off the pier and beam basically and busted the windows, kicked the door off the hinges," Boles said.


Boles is a handyman by trade. He says even though his landlord gave him his rent back and let him out of the lease, he's still going to try to fix the place up as much as he can before he leaves.

"This is all sheet rock and wood and screws, some mud patchwork whatever. These guys up the street lost lives," Boles said.


Boles says he's also worried about his elderly next door neighbor, William Hromadka.

He was outside when the fertilizer plant exploded.

"I was sitting on that chair, on that black chair over there. I was sitting and I got up and I walked up them bricks over there. I was fixing to leave again and about that time everything went black. Everything just went black, nothing," Hromadka said.

"Next thing I remember is holding on to that car right there. Just waiting for it, see what's gonna happen that's about it," Hromadka said.

He says his wife has been in the hospital for the past 6 weeks. So he's glad she didn't have to experience what he did.

"Really glad….I'm glad that she wasn't here, that's right. That is...that's the truth man. Better believe that," Hromadka said.

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