WEST -- A nearly endless stream of cars and trucks carrying supplies and volunteers poured steadily into the West fairgrounds on Friday as support for displaced residents and pets continued to arrive from across the state.A covered arena at the home of the popular Westfest Czech and Polka celebration each Labor Day weekend was stacked high with donations of food, water, clothing and toiletries. Hundreds of volunteers -- officials didn't have an exact count because more arrived by the minute -- stayed busy unloading and unpacking the items, taking inventory, sorting them and moving them to the correct aisle.An official with the Texas Department of Public Safety's emergency response division said supplies were no longer needed. People who still want to help may want to give blood or make a financial contribution instead.Jimmy Machac, a West resident whose sister lost her house in the explosion at the fertilizer plant Wednesday evening, was helping coordinate the massive effort. Asked for an estimate of how many tons of supplies had come in, he chuckled and shook his head."We have 10 semis just of bottled water," he said.As he spoke, a military member who was directing traffic came over and reported the arrival of 500 pairs of new tennis shoes.Volunteers were coming from near and far to pitch in with the sorting, too. One was West resident Kevin Bing, whose wife and three children were also involved. They spent the day Thursday at the distribution site and returned Friday, although one son got called in to work, he said."Right now we're creating goodie boxes for schoolteachers," Bing said. "The elementary teachers are getting three more grades starting Monday."Teachers at West Intermediate School, he said, lost everything in the fire.Displaced residents said they appreciated the support. Clay and Nickole Hayes, who were picking up necessities, said they live about 200 yards from the blast site and had not been allowed to return to their home."It's awesome," Nickole Hayes said. "Everybody has been just amazing, not just here but our friends and relatives too."Machac said the longer-term plan is to open a storefront in town for affected families."It would be just like a grocery store," he said, adding that donated items are scanned during processing so that they can be tracked. "We're keeping inventory, just like a store."Patrick M. Walker, 682-232-4674Twitter: @patrickmwalker1
How to help
Pointwest Bank is taking monetary donations. They can be dropped off or sent to 200 W. Oak St., P.O. Box 279, West, TX 76691. Call 254-826-5333.
United Way of Tarrant County is accepting donations for West victims online at unitedwaytarrant.org or 817-258-8019.
The Salvation Army has set up four emergency kitchens. Workers are distributing food and water to victims and emergency responders. Donations may be made at salvationarmydfw.org.
-- Terry Evans