WEST, Texas -- A small group of concerned residents met on Thursday night to voice concerns about the distributions of $3.6 million in private donations that flooded the town following the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion.

Deirdre Matus, who was blinded when debris from the plant hit her face, said it is about time she and her family see some of the money.

'Where is the money that people donated?' she told News 8.

In early October, the West Long-Term Recovery Center, where the private donations were funneled, announced it would start handing out checks to more than 500 families that had filed cases.

But as of this week, only about 25 families had received any payment.

Karen Bernsen, the executive director, said payouts are expected to increase as they recently brought on three additional case workers.

'When you're working through it, it seems slow, but step back and say, 'We've only been doing this seven months,' Bernsen said.

Cases are being presented anonymously in front of an 'unmet needs' committee once a week. The 15-person committee is made up of volunteers from the community.

But some of those at Thursday night's meeting expressed concern about how they were selected, and again why the process is moving so slowly.

'People donated knowing we need it quickly,' said Carol Waddell, who lives just outside of town, but had a daughter lose her home in the blast.

So far, the amount of money pledged and distributed totals around $300,000.


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