Two flags, tattered by an explosion blocks away, have flown at half-staff at the Emergency Medical Services station since shortly after a fertilizer mixing operation blew up April 17, 2013, devastating this quiet central Texas town and killing 15.
The dead included three out-of-town men attending a course at the EMS facility, who then joined local volunteer firefighters to fight the blaze.
Tommy Muska, the ruddy-faced mayor of this traditional Czech community, teared up and went off-message about West’s efforts to rebuild as his 1990 Ford pickup edged toward the frayed, faded American and Lone Star flags.
“Look at that. That’s pretty much how many of us feel — beat up but still flying.” said Muska, an insurance agent whose father was also the town’s mayor. He was thrust into the headline-snaring disaster, followed by months of delicate dealings with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state agencies, lawyers, myriad reporters, aid agencies and 2,800 shaken residents.