Like many coaches, David Woodard is a creature of habit. Success in his business is built on months of drills, repetitions, and routines. But he’s also a citizen of West, where life lately has been anything but routine.
Update: On Friday, August 2—several weeks after this story went to press—FEMA reversed its earlier decision to deny the City of West additional federal disaster aid and approved a major disaster declaration for the town that will bring as much as $20 million in additional federal funds.
There are two florists in West, Texas—Divine Designs, owned by Judy Kudelka and Sharon Jackson, and Donna’s House of Flowers, owned by Donna Snokhous—and between them, they cover all the weddings, funerals, and special occasions in the little town of 2,800. But Snokhous lost both her husband and brother-in-law in the fire caused by the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion, and a day or two afterward she fell and broke her arm.
Willie Nelson was born and raised in Abbott, Texas, a town roughly five miles north of West, which was recently devastated by a fertilizer plant explosion. I caught up with Willie on his bus in Nashville, Thursday night, before he recorded an eightieth birthday special for CMT.
When news first spread of an explosion in West comma Texas, before its magnitude was really known, most Texans thought of kolaches, the pastry the town is known for. Which is why this photo, taken by an Instagram user who had stopped for gas at the beloved Czech Stop—as so many Texans traveling up and down I-35 do—really drove the horror home.