President Obama spoke at a memorial service Thursday for victims of last week’s explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West, Texas. At least 15 people died in the disaster, many of them firefighters and other first responders, and more than 200 were wounded. The blast flattened the surrounding area, causing an estimated $100 million in damages. The facility had not been inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 1985. During his speech, Obama praised the town of West.
President Obama: "America needs towns that holds fundraisers to help folks pay the medical bills and then take the time to drop off a home-cooked meal because they know a family is under stress. America needs communities where there’s always somebody to call if your car gets stuck or your house gets flooded. We need people who so love their neighbors as themselves that they’re willing to lay down their lives for them. America needs towns like West."
The fertilizer plant in West was reportedly storing 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate needed to trigger oversight by the Department of Homeland Security, but had not reported that fact. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi said: "We understand that DHS did not even know the plant existed until it blew up."