Polka festival raises money for West explosion victims

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by CARLA WADE

WFAA

Posted on November 17, 2013 at 12:43 PM

The town of West is on the path to rebuilding. But more than six months after the fertilizer plant explosion that leveled much of the small town north of Waco, there's still a lot of work to be done — and a lot of money needed to pay for it.

On Saturday, Catholic Charities of Central Texas sent out volunteers in West to canvass the hardest-hit areas. Their goal — to find out what families need the most.

"We have like 500-plus residents that are in need," said West City Council member Al Vanek. "There are unmet needs, and we are not even getting close to satisfying their needs."

Many West residents are still living with relatives, or out of town, as homes are rebuilt.

Ennis and West are separated by about an hour's drive, but they share a rich Czech heritage. Through that common bond, money was raised Saturday to help West.

The National Polka Festival co-sponsored a day-long fundraiser fillled with music and dance

"Every bit counts... every penny," Vanek said.

In October, city officials estimated that despite FEMA distributing $840,000 in aid to victims, there's are still an estimated $30 million worth of unmet needs. That's something the organizers of the fundraiser hope to help address.

"It's help, but its only going to help a certain percentage of the people," said Danny Zapletal, executive director of the fundraiser.

Money raised from admission, plus a silent auction and barbecue dinners, will help the town match some of the FEMA funds and help individual families.

"In Texas, we really come together as a community and try to support the ones in need," Zapletal said.

After today's assesment, officials hope to come up with a better long-term plan for distributing aid in West.

E-mail cwade@wfaa.com

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