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WEST, Texas When you bring the entire community together under one roof, you can finally see the scope of the blow that hit this small Central Texas town last week when a fertilizer plant exploded.

It was a packed meeting, where everyone had paid some price to the blast. But the act of just being together helped make it a little bit better.

In the history of West, it's unlikely there has ever been a better-attended public meeting.

Elected officials delivered critical information, so everyone can move forward together.

Resident Steve Soukup wanted to know whether he can get his belongings even if his house is a total loss.

Yes; a special team is here to help.

"I got blood, sweat and tears in that building," Soukup said. "I drove a lot of nails in it. Me and my brother-in-law painted it. My son helped us wire it."

It is a house he will never live in again.

"When they start tearing that thing down, it's gonna be pretty bad," Soukup said.

But for most residents of West, like Lucille Lednicky, it could have been worse.

"We're just all real close family," she said.

And just seeing familiar faces again for the first time gave people an opportunity to smile.

"We're just so glad we're here," Lednicky said. "When we see each other, we smile, because we know we're all still here. And we're so thankful for that."

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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