It happened on President’s Day, between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m., almost 2 weeks ago. Children had just arrived at school and were finishing breakfast. Many people were still at home because it was President’s Day, and for the same reason, traffic on the interstate highway was light.
Then it happened. The absolutely huge explosion. We still talk about it. My husband and I were out of town when it happened so we did not actually experience the sound of the blast or the earthquake like feel of the explosion. However, for those who did, there are still feelings of trama, fear, and shock that are evident when they share their experience almost two weeks later.
A friend of mine showed me pictures of damage to her house and talked about standing in her front yard watching the billowing black mushroom cloud, weeping as she thought of all the people she knows who work there knowing they must certainly be dead. Her eyes still well with tears as she remembers the day.
There is an elementary school just across the interstate from the school. Immediately after the explosion parents came in droves to get their children. There was panic and terror in their eyes and voices as they said things like, “We’ve got to get out of here. This place is going to blow!”
But Big Spring did not ‘blow’. In fact, aside from the horrendous blast which was heard and felt 45 miles away in all directions, damage to many homes and businesses, and a handful of injuries one of which is serious, many things went right. The safety measures put in place at the refinery worked. The ‘cat cracker’ was shut down just in time, I understand, which saved many lives and prevented much more damage. Because it happened on a holiday, there was a short staff working that day. Many of the offices were empty which was a blessing because they received considerable damage. There was only one injury to a passerby because the otherwise busy interstate was being lightly traveled.
I do not want to minimize the injuries, because for them, it was serious. There is still one person who is in the hospital with burns, and he is struggling to recover.
For our community as a whole, we know that God’s presence that morning was real. His protective hand saved lives and we all know it. Tomorrow evening (Sunday) we will have a city wide thanksgiving service thanking God for Big Spring’s Miracle on I-20.