Jonathan McNamara

Recovery: West, Texas Rebuilds


Above: A house destroyed by the West fertilizer plant explosion in the northern part of town.

A house destroyed by the West fertilizer plant explosion in the northern part of town.
A house destroyed by the West fertilizer plant explosion in the northern part of town.  Jonathan McNamara

Today is the one-year anniversary of the fertilizer plant explosion in the small town of West, Texas, which killed 15 people and injured an estimated 300.

Six months after the disaster, Web Editor and Observer Radio producer Jonathan McNamara visited West to find out how the town was rebuilding.

In “Recovery: West, Texas Rebuilds,” a special edition of Observer Radio that originally ran in December, McNamara finds a close-knit town both grieving and determined to restore some semblance of normalcy. Mayor Tommy Muska talks about the painful moment when residents of the area closest to the blast were finally allowed to rummage through the ruins of their homes for anything salvageable. Five-year-old Parker Pustejovsky’s grandparents tell the tale of how their grandson’s big idea to sell hot dogs to rebuild the park raised more than $83,000 on a single Saturday.

We also hear from a couple of philanthropically-minded Dallas men who borrowed an iconic T-shirt design to raise money for West.

Below you can also find a collection of our coverage of the West disaster and its aftermath.

Recovery: West, Texas Rebuilds


For more on West, Texas, read these stories:

Hero Complex
Published April 1, 2014
Last year was the deadliest on record for Texas firefighters. Can dampening a culture of heroism keep them safer?

Inspections Show Texas Fertilizer Plants Still Vulnerable
Published February 27, 2014
Nearly a year after the West fertilizer plant explosion, holes in the system that allowed it to happen in the first place have not been addressed.

State Agencies Meet Resistance in Policing Fertilizer Industry
Published August 26, 2013
In the aftermath of the West, Texas fertilizer disaster, state agencies meet resistance from other fertilizer facilities.

The Lessons from West
Published August 19, 2013
I think it’s clear that West wasn’t an unavoidable act of God. It was a man-made industrial crime.

Conservative Think Tanker Proposes Tax Cuts to Pay for West Disaster
Published August 2, 2013
Texas Public Policy Foundation deep thinker John Davidson proposes tax cuts for businesses to help West, Texas recover from the April fertilizer explosion.

In West Explosion, Echoes of Another Texas Tragedy
Published April 18, 2013
The explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, on Wednesday raises the same questions that followed the 1947 disaster in Texas City, the largest industrial accident in American history. 


Music used in this story includes:

“Aja Sam” and “Pretty Dancing Girl” by Brave Combo.

“Good Is Always With Him,” “Local Wounds,” and “The Town of West, TX” by Rip Corvidae.

Additional music by Art of Flying and Cosmic Analog Ensemble.

A version of this audio story originally ran last year on KPFT in Houston and KOOP Radio in Austin on November 29 and December 3 respectively.