The town of West, Texas is still recovering from a massive fertilizer plant explosion. Almost two weeks later residents are still displaced and in need of help and support. "Wow...those poor people they sure do need some help still. They aren't out of the woods yet," said Michael Ballard.
Ballard was driving past the town on his way back to Wichita Falls when he stopped in West to see if he could lend a helping hand. People are just completely out of everything their entire homes were wiped out, Ballard said."
Ballard, recently trained as a peer specialist along with his trained service dog Apollo, found a command post. He went inside and told them he wanted to help. Officials showed him an area where he and Apollo can be supporters and comforters. "You'd be amazed, people were walking in just completely devastated and upset...then they see the dog, and they're smiling and petting the dog, and it takes them away for even just a brief moment. It makes them feel better," said Ballard.
Much of the blast zone is still blocked off, homeowners are only allowed in certain areas. One man described the damage to his home to Ballard, "it's been described to me by one gentleman that his entire roof was blown off. And every single wall in the house is leaned to the side.
As authorities begin letting more people back into the area, more volunteers are needed and more supplies. "I was only down there for the weekend. That was enough to know that I need to go back. I need to go back and get some more help for these people," Said Ballard.
Boxes and tape are some of the items needed most. As donations come in they need to be sorted. Residents also need them for boxing up what is left of their homes and memories. To donate boxes and tape to the victims of West. Michael Ballard says to call him and he will come pick them up and take them to West with him when he returns, this weekend. Michael Ballard- 253-363-3150