12-03-2020  2:37 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
MLK Breakfast 2021 Save the Date
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Merkley, Clay Propose Constitutional Amendment to Close Slavery Loophole in 13th Amendment

Indisputably racist exception permitting slavery as punishment for crime has fueled systemic racism in criminal justice for 150 years

Police Guide That Calls BLM a Terrorist Group Draws Outrage

The document contains misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric that could incite officers against protesters and people of color, critics said

Man in Jail after Shooting Black Teen in Ashland

A 47-year-old man is in custody in Jackson County jail charged with shooting and killing a Black teen in Ashland on November 27

Oregon Reports Record Number of Daily COVID-19 Cases

The number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations also continues to surge with 529 people hospitalized — a 209% increase since the start of the month

NEWS BRIEFS

Commissioner Fritz Directs Portland Parks & Rec to Remove the Name 'Custer Park'

The park at SW 21st Avenue and Capitol Hill Road will temporarily be known as “A Park” as PP&R engages with the community to...

Oregonians May Qualify for Help Paying for Health Insurance

The deadline to apply for coverage is Tuesday, December 15. ...

Additional Food Benefits To Be Distributed in December

The Oregon Department of Human Service will issue emergency supplemental allotments to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program...

Multnomah County Opens Applications for Restaurant and Food Cart COVID-19 Relief Grants

Caterers, B&Bs and benevolent groups can also apply; application deadline is Tuesday, Dec. 15 ...

OHS Shares Update on Afro-American Heritage Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt Conservation Efforts

The historical quilt was damaged during a vandalism incident at the Oregon Historical Society’s downtown facility last month ...

85-year-old woman killed, son arrested

ALBANY, Ore. (AP) — A man was arrested Tuesday east of Albany after the Linn County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 hang-up call, investigated and discovered his 85-year-old mother had been killed.Kris Fiala, 54, was arraigned on Wednesday in Linn County Circuit Court on charges of...

COVID-19 outbreak at employment department slows operations

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An 11-person COVID-19 outbreak at the Wilsonville office of the Oregon Employment Department will likely cause further delays in handling claims, officials said.The outbreak “will cause real disruptions in our ability to get work at the pace we have been,”...

Vanderbilt women's soccer player receives SEC football honor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Southeastern Conference has named Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller as the league's co-special teams player of the week after she made history becoming the first woman to play in a Power 5 conference football game. Fuller shared the award Monday with Florida punt...

Vanderbilt K Fuller becomes first woman to play in Power 5

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Sarah Fuller was playing around with a teammate a couple months ago when she kicked a soccer ball through the uprights from 45 yards away. She joked about being able to kick a football with teammates during the Southeastern Conference soccer tournament. On Saturday, she...

OPINION

All Eyes on Georgia

Senate control is crucial for the nation ...

Thanksgiving 2020: Grateful for New Hope and New Direction in Our Nation

This hasn’t been a normal year, and it isn’t going to be a normal Thanksgiving. ...

No Time to Rest

After four years under a Trump administration, we see there is a lot of work to be done. ...

Could America Learn a COVID-19 Lesson from Rwanda?

As of October 28, in a country of just over twelve million people, they have experienced only 35 deaths from the coronavirus ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

US to block goods from Chinese company over rights abuses

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. said Wednesday it would block imports from a major Chinese producer of cotton goods because of its reliance on workers detained as part of a crackdown on ethnic minorities in China's northwest.Customs and Border Protection issued an order halting shipments from the...

Survey finds race- and sex-based harassment 'common' at FEMA

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than a quarter of employees at the Federal Emergency Management Agency said they were harassed or discriminated against based on their gender or race, according to a survey released Wednesday as part of the fallout from allegations of sexual harassment by a senior...

Editorial Roundup: US

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:___Dec. 1The Wall Street Journal on U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr's comments that no widespread fraud was detected in the recent presidential election:Bill Barr can take the heat, and on Tuesday the stalwart Attorney General...

ENTERTAINMENT

Who did it? TV viewers intrigued by HBO's 'The Undoing'

NEW YORK (AP) — The dramatic conclusion to “The Undoing,” HBO's whodunit starring Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman, proved how it's still possible to bring people together in today's fragmented television world.Three million people tuned in Sunday to find out who really killed the...

All Mariah Carey wants is you to enjoy her Christmas special

NEW YORK (AP) — Christmas is still a few weeks away, but Mariah Carey is already orchestrating her dinner menu.“I do my father’s linguini with white clam sauce every Christmas Eve,” says the legendary songstress. “Then we do that traditional, more of a...

The Sundance Film Festival goes largely virtual for 2021

Leave the snow boots, parkas and glove warmers in the closet, the 2021 Sundance Film Festival is coming down from the mountain and straight to your living room. Organizers on Wednesday said that this year they will premiere over 70 films on a custom online platform during the seven day event. There...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

UN calls on humanity to end 'war on nature,' go carbon-free

As an extreme year for hurricanes, wildfires and heat waves comes to an end, the head of the United Nations...

Congress swats back Trump's veto threat of defense bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is closing out his relationship with Congress with one more power...

In video, Trump recycles unsubstantiated voter fraud claims

WASHINGTON (AP) — Increasingly detached from reality, President Donald Trump stood before a White House...

Australian leader seeks conciliation in dispute with China

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A diplomatic war of words between Australia and China over a graphic tweet...

UN calls on humanity to end 'war on nature,' go carbon-free

As an extreme year for hurricanes, wildfires and heat waves comes to an end, the head of the United Nations...

Turkey announces vaccination plan for Chinese CoronaVac

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s health minister has announced a vaccination plan starting with an...

MLK Breakfast 2021 Save the Date
Todd Sperry CNN

WEST, Texas (CNN) -- One by one, the beleaguered townspeople of West, Texas, filed into local churches Sunday to begin the healing process, following last week's deadly blast at the nearby West Fertilizer Co. plant.

 



As parishioners streamed out of St. Mary's Catholic Church after Sunday's service, Father Boniface Onjefu hugged and consoled his congregants, and gave reassuring smiles and high fives to the church's youngest members.

 

"West is a strong city. We shall definitely overcome this tragedy," Onjefu told those assembled at his church, about a mile from the explosion site. Several members of St. Mary's were killed or injured battling the blaze, Onjefu told CNN.

 

The church's parking lot has become a staging area, of sorts, for police and first responders who have flooded the north central Texas community since Wednesday's explosion that killed 14 people.

 

Search and rescue efforts have evolved into search and recovery efforts, because officials don't expect to find any more victims in the wreckage -- alive or dead.

 

The explosion at West Fertilizer's plant ruined much of the north side of town, and left hundreds of people injured, homeless and in need of help.

 

On television nationally, the scope of the tragedy was overshadowed by the dramatic events in New England, as investigators there pursued leads in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation, then pursued their suspects.

 

But many Texans kept their focus on the great need close to home. Long lines of cars streamed by the community center, dropping off food, water and other rations throughout the weekend. Numerous church groups and restaurants handed out hot meals.

 

"These are our neighbors. They are coming to help," Waco Police Department Sgt. William Patrick Swanton told reporters. "You will find that in Texas. You will find that across the United States. We put everything aside when it comes to these types of situations."

 

The nine first responders from West who died battling the blaze represented nearly one-third of the town's volunteer firefighting and EMT force. The fire destroyed two fire trucks and an ambulance. Firefighters and trucks from neighboring communities now fill the void at the West firehouse.

 

At Sunday's emotional church service in this farming town of fewer than 3,000 residents, the priest told congregants his personal recollection of Wednesday's horror. He had just returned to the rectory when he heard the blast.

 

"I thought it was an earthquake," Onjefu said. The lights flickered on and off as his small two-story brick residence shook from the explosion, he added.

 

Onjefu said that when he headed outside, he immediately noticed a large, dark plume of smoke rising in the sky on the north side of town. He got into his car and drove toward the smoke.

 

The priest was one of the first to arrive in the destroyed part of town. He immediately began helping remove victims from a severely damaged nursing home. The town's high school and middle school, also close to the fertilizer plant, sustained heavy damage as well.

 

Onjefu said that since the blast, he has witnessed "fear in the eyes" of people walking the streets of West.

 

Many churchgoers trying to fathom the destruction have asked Onjefu for answers about why the plant exploded.

 

"I guess it could have been worse," an elderly church member told him as he left the Sunday service.

 

Onjefu smiled and agreed, reminding the man of his sermon, which noted that rains and winds in the area had helped tame the blaze, and kept the poisonous cloud of fumes away from the center of town.

 

Evacuated townspeople began returning home late Saturday to begin what promises to be a massive cleanup effort. Authorities allowed a second wave to revisit their homes Sunday.

 

The process "is going well and orderly," with "very few hiccups," said Steve Vanek, West's mayor pro tem. Adult residents are being allowed in until 7 p.m., under the supervision of Texas state police, he said.

 

A strict curfew and heavy state police presence control the areas cordoned off near the site -- almost the entire north side of town.

 

The cause of the fire and explosion has not been determined yet, but investigators have isolated the center of the blast, Assistant State Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner said Sunday. The explosion left a large crater in the middle of the plant, Kistner said.

 

Funeral arrangements are pending for those killed. But Vanek said Sunday that Baylor University, 20 miles away in Waco, will host a memorial service for first responders at 2 p.m. Thursday. So far, 10 of the 14 casualties have been identified as first responders, including a Dallas firefighter.

 

In Hillsboro, Texas, about 15 miles from West, hotels and storefront windows displayed fliers celebrating the life of firefighter Jerry Chapman, who was killed fighting the blaze, an indication that the mourning and sense of grief go far beyond the close-knit community of West.

CNN's Todd Sperry reported from West, Texas; CNN's Martin Savidge, John Murgatroyd and Eric Fiegel contributed to this report from West, Texas; CNN's Matt Smith and Mark Morgenstein contributed from Atlanta.

 ™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

 

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