Volunteers clean up after deadly plant explosion

The explosion at the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing Company left hundreds of houses in the nearby area with shattered windows and damaged doors.

Many residents returned to their homes Saturday morning to start cleanup and repairs.

Some had help securing their homes while others are depending on the kindness of strangers. 

One woman was searching the neighborhood on Terrace Manor Dr. for her missing Maine Coon and Siamese cats. 

"They probably got really scared from the explosion," she says.

She adds that she is lucky to have assistance from family and friends, but others need a helping hand. 

"I got a bad back; I couldn’t do anything," says Skip Donovan, a local resident. 

For him, help came in the form of a team of volunteers who showed up in his neighborhood shortly before 9 a.m. Texas A&M students sweep up the glass that shattered onto his driveway from an upstairs window. 

"We were outside, and they just showed up and said 'what can we do to help?" says Skip's wife Mary Kay Donovan. 

The volunteers come from a group of 15 churches called the Restoration Team. The non-profit formed after Hurricane Harvey and continues doing restoration work more than two years after the storm.  

As with other disasters, they are switching gears and going where their work is needed.

The teams are canvassing one neighborhood at a time, talking to residents, boarding windows and installing tarp where needed.

"Unlike natural disasters where you have federal and state dollars, there’s going to be fewer resources for this," says Josef Klam, Executive Pastor at Chapelwood United Methodist Church. 

He says they are also working with the Red Cross and the Houston Office of Emergency Management to visit homeowners who have requested help.

But the volunteers are also offering another form of recovery- a friendly spirit in the middle of a disaster. 

"It gives you one of those moments to smile because there’s not a lot of smiling going on," says Mary Kay. 

"It gives you a reason to smile and say, 'it’s only stuff'. That’s going to be my new motto," she adds. "It’s only stuff."

Volunteers plan to continue working through the affected area for several days following the explosion.

If you need help with your home, please contact the Red Cross or the Office of Emergency Management at (713) 884-4500 OR dial 311. 

If you would like to volunteer, visit therestorationteam.org