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Port Neches Library temporarily closed due to damage from plant explosion

PORT NECHES — The Hebert Public Library is going to remain closed for an undetermined time due to damage from the explosion at nearby TCP Group Port Neches Operations.

Mark Durham looks out last week from the Hebert Public Library in Port Neches at the smoke cloud left from the explosion.

Mark Durham, library director, said they have been flooded with calls asking if they are open and also inquiring about the damages.

Windows on one side of the library nearest the plant were blown inward. Two large doors in the reference room were also blown inward, back into the room partly resting against the reference librarian’s desk. Durham had to maneuver through an opening where one of the side panels lay to get inside the room the day of the explosion Wednesday.

Durham believes the blast or a shock wave went through the building, knocking down ceiling tile panels, causing some windows to come unsealed and pulling down insulation among other issues.

As the library director recently walked through the building he noted areas where glass blew far inside the different rooms, with some glass embedded in a poster in the children’s section.

Ironically, the Christmas tree in the children’s section still stood as it did before the explosion — the only difference being the shards of glass and debris feet away.

Mark Durham looks at some of the damage from TPC Group’s explosion.

“At this point we are still assessing damages and until the damages are assessed there’s not much we can do in terms of repairs, etc.,” Durham said. “We have staff doing cleanup, but that’s about all we can do. We are working to restore services as fast as we can because of the amount of services we serve the community with.”

The library staff is working to place plastic or some sort of temporary barrier over the broken windows to protect the library collection from humidity. The building is also equipped with roll down shutters.

Ceiling tile panels hang down in various areas of the Hebert Public Library in Port Neches.

Other city owned buildings damaged

The library wasn’t the only city-owned building damaged in the explosion.

Port Neches City Manager Andre Wimer said there was damage to the fire station and public works service center.

“We do not believe any of our other nearby facilities, including the water treatment plant, city hall and senior center received any damage, but we will be conducting a review of these structures as well,” Wimer said Monday. “The intent is to have all of our facilities inspected to ensure there was no damage.”

The library is the only city owned building that is temporarily closed due to damages.

Library services

Durham said it would be helpful if the public returns library items to the Merriman Street book drop.

At this moment all library fines are suspended along with material checkouts and holds.

“We are taking this all day-by-day and do not have an estimated date for reopening,” Durham said.

Although most library programs and events are on hold for the week, the library is trying to relocate its regular programmed events at off-site locations, where possible.

Durham said Groves Library has graciously offered to host the Mah-Jong group on Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Also, Port Neches’ Christmas Children’s Mother Goose storytime program, scheduled for next week, will also be taking place at the Groves Library at 10 a.m. Dec. 11. Children who have participated in the Port Neches storytime events this semester are welcome to attend.

Groves is having its Storytime Santa event this week.

Other updates to be provided via the library’s Facebook page.