Texas RV Park a Haven for Explosion Victims
Surrounded by travel trailers that served as makeshift homes, the group of refugees clasped hands and bowed their heads. In a rare moment of triumph amid months of grief and frustration, they offered a prayer of celebration.
As reported by the Dallas News, two of their own, Bo and Syble Bohannan, were moving their camper from the travel park to oversee the construction of their new house. It was a happy turning point for the couple. But it was also such a beacon of hope for their unexpected neighbors that it warranted — practically required — a potluck sendoff.
For months after a deadly fertilizer plant explosion destroyed scores of houses in this quiet farming town, the Waco North KOA campground in Texas nestled on its outskirts became a refuge for dozens of families whose homes were deemed uninhabitable. Seemingly overnight, the once-sleepy travel park became the launching pad for new lives that are still coming together.
“At the end of the day, everybody would kind of gather around and we’d just talk our feelings out,” said 48-year-old Robert Seith, who knew the Bohannans long before he and wife Kim wound up living in a trailer next to them at the KOA campground.
Barbecues became support groups as people swapped stories about insurance settlements, mountains of paperwork and the irritations of tiny showers with poor water pressure. Picnic tables became drawing boards for houses that many figured would be completed in time for the holidays.
“It was more or less the same atmosphere as your neighborhood,” said 32-year-old Kody Kolar, who held his new friend Syble Bohannan’s hand during the prayer circle at the June potluck. “That’s what it was — another neighborhood.”
In the months since the Bohannans left, dozens of others, including the Kolars and Seiths, have followed suit. Their journeys to reclaim a sense of normalcy have moved at varied paces and in different directions. But the grit, disappointment and hope that marked their days at the campgrounds still inextricably link their lives together.
“We left the area, but we haven’t left the people,” 83-year-old Syble Bohannan said last week.
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