It began as a quiet morning on Richmond Hill Drive in northwest Houston.
Until it wasn't.
Around 4:30 a.m., a massive explosion at a nearby business caused chaos and panic as glass shattered, ceilings fell in and homes were knocked off their foundations.
Chris Santiff was up early, enjoying a cup of coffee and getting ready to go to work. That’s when a huge boom interrupted the morning peace, shook his entire house and turned his life upside down.
“I thought a plane crashed on top of the house,’ Chris told KHOU 11 News reporter Adam Bennett.
“Everything started shaking, glass shattering and coming in and all over the house. Things were falling off the wall,” Chris said.
A few minutes of terror followed for Chris and his wife Connie. She was crying and, like everyone else, they had no idea what was going on.
“It looked like a bomb went off,” Chris said. “It’s bad. It’s bad.”
As they looked around the house, the extent of damage began to sink in.
“Every room in the house. It even blew off the top of my toilet,” Chris said.
Walls caved in and the foundation shifted, causing huge gaps in the ceilings.
The sliding glass door and every window shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces. There’s glass everywhere.
The garage door blew completely off its frame.
Hours later, the couple was still in shock and trying to process what happened.
“You know the really sad thing is we just booked a trip to go to Cancun to go on our 50th anniversary in March and now…I don’t know," Chris said.“Looks like our present might be rebuilding this house."
They know they are blessed to have insurance.
“Thank God. I feel sorry for everyone that doesn’t.”
But the thought of dealing with insurance adjusters, contractors and everything else is overwhelming.
Every home and business in the area has devastating damage.
Firefighters were going door to door in the neighborhood about a quarter of a mile from Watson Grinding where the explosion happened. They advised homeowners to leave, as a precaution. A shelter was set up at a nearby church.
But Chris and his wife were reluctant to take their advice.
“At our age, you’re almost afraid to leave your home anyway,” he said.
Even when it’s a home that will have to be put back together, piece by piece.