Students return to school after West fires and explosion - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Students return to school after West fires and explosion


As investigators continue their "slow and methodical" search of the site, Monday there was some semblance of a return to normalcy.

Hundreds of students returned to school-- many of them in new classrooms because their old ones were severely damaged by the explosion.

"I'm just glad to get back to our routine and to see all of my friends, because I miss them a lot," says West ISD student Sophia Guerra.

Teachers and administrators were there to greet high schoolers as they arrived for classes.

"It was great to see the kids come in... to be able to open their car doors for them, give them high fives as they came in and say, 'Hey. Good morning.' It's like the first day of school all over again," says West ISD Superintendent Marty Crawford.

The West Independent School District is small, with just five campuses and less than 1,500 students. Three of the town's schools are damaged. The elementary school opened its doors, and neighboring towns are coming to the rescue for other students, who are forced to resume class in Connally and the Hillsboro Independent School District - a West sports rival.

"We want them to feel comfortable. We want them to feel welcome. This is now West High School... West Middle School. We want them to feel very comfortable where they are," says Wesley Holt, the human resource officer at Connally ISD.

Many of the students and their families also lost their homes.

"I don't think it can be repaired. I haven't been in it, but my husband has. My son took him in there," says one West woman.

Some residents have been back to their homes while others have just seen pictures that portray the destruction.

"In [my son's] bedroom, the ceiling has fallen in where he would be sitting. I don't have a kitchen left. All of my windows are out, my dogs are running through my house right now," she adds.

Officials in West say it could be weeks before residents have gas and water-- longer before students can return to their home campuses.

A slideshow of pictures of the West aftermath can be seen here.

Governor Rick Perry says the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, would not have been prevented if the state earmarked more money for industry inspections.

The Governor said he remains comfortable with the level of state oversight following last week's explosion. State environmental regulators last inspected the plant in 2006. President Barack Obama and the First Lady will be at a memorial service for first responders later this week.

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