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CASSANDRA JENKINS — Resilient community withstands tragedy, keeps spirit alive

We all know on who and what last week’s TPC explosion left a toll. People’s homes, schools, businesses and livelihoods were compromised after what was considered an asset turned quickly into a liability.

Residents all over Port Neches, Groves, Nederland and parts of Port Arthur were sent running from their homes on the evening before Thanksgiving as doors shattered, fires blazed and harmful debris fell from the sky.

Yet, the community has stayed strong, resilient and joyful during the aftermath of a tragedy.

Whether one is scrolling through Facebook, swiping on Instagram or checking local media outlets, good spirits can be found all around. Those who spent Thanksgiving dinner in a hotel room or at a nearby relative’s house expressed gratitude, when they could have expressed resentment.

School officials, most likely tired and drained from cleaning up broken windows, busted doors and falling ceilings, sent out well-wishing emails expressing what they still had to be thankful for. After returning to school Tuesday, schools like Port Neches Elementary welcomed their students with open arms, hugs and smiles despite their Thanksgiving break turning out to be anything but.

First responders and police officers continue to monitor traffic around the plant site. City officials remain vigilant by informing residents of the plant’s overall status. Talking to Port Neches-Groves Independent School District Assistant Superintendent Julie Gauthier, she expressed how happy children were to return to school.

A community that was kicked decided to stand up and smile for all they had, rather than focus on everything they had lost. The bonds of communities are often tested when faced with disaster, and Mid-County and Port Arthur met that challenge head on, with everyone reaching out to another despite their own problems.

The community — our community — is strong, resilient and caring. One cannot hope to contain something that refuses to stay down.

Cassandra Jenkins is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at cassie.jenkins@panews.com.