Evacuated residents worry about air quality


PORT NECHES, Texas — A mandatory curfew and evacuation order was issued Wednesday for everyone within four miles of a Port Neches, Texas refinery about 95 miles east of Houston.

That’s where crews continue to respond to two massive explosions.

Officials say they still don’t know how much damage was caused from the blasts.

Several communities are impacted.

Dozens of businesses have shut down, and families left their homes the day before Thanksgiving.

Port Neches is basically closed. The communities of Groves, Nederland, and the northern part of Port Arthur are also part of that mandatory evacuation zone.

The American Red Cross has set up a shelter at Ford Park in Beaumont, where about 50 people are inside, including families with children.

Not at all what anyone envisioned for their Thanksgiving.

Under a thick cloud of smoke, Laurel Amy and her family are packing up all the essentials.

“I just worry about what we’re breathing in,” Port Arthur Resident Amy says. “Thanksgiving dinner, food, clothes for maybe a couple days, our alcohol.”

She was going to host Thanksgiving. Now they’ll be guests at a friends home in Beaumont.

“They’re taking us in and probably taking some other people in so we’ll have fun,” she says.

They live in Port Arthur within the mandatory evacuation zone. The TPC facility is just two miles away.

Tonight the streets within that 4 mile radius are quiet. Businesses are closed.

The normal hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving night at this Port Arthur hub has been replaced by an eerie silence.

Still not everyone has left.

At Rebecca and Craig Wade’s, the Christmas decorations have already greeted 12 relatives. More are coming for fellowship and feasting.

“We have our turkey and dressing and all the fixings to go with it and our hams and there’s no reason to pack it up and be on the highway you’re going to stop anyway and you might as well just stay at home enjoy your family,” Rebecca says.

They say they felt the explosions, but don’t feel threatened.

Craig Wade worked in the industry for decades.

“We feel pretty safe because we really haven’t smelled anything in the air,” he says.

So tonight, as Rebecca and her grandson do food prep, others are leaving.

Everyone hoping all remains quiet nearby.

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