WEST — Church vans and police cars from cities across the state convened in West on Thursday morning, a day of grieving for the small town that was devastated by a fertilizer plant explosion.The Southern Baptist Convention of Texas' disaster team staged caravans across the street from St. Mary's Church of the Assumption for local families who will be attending the 2 p.m. memorial service at Baylor University in Waco.The disaster team began work here the day after the explosion, director Jim Richardson said. Twenty-nine Texas churches are in town. The church vans will transport families from St. Mary's to Texas State Technical College in Waco, where charter buses will drive the families to the Ferrell Center, Baylor's basketball arena. "We are coordinating with [the team]. We are donating the space and the security detail to get them there without any foolishness," Kevin Dorton, vice president of administrative services for TSTC said. Throughout the morning, police escorts guided West families riding in various church vans to the college located 10 miles from their town. Several North Texas fire crews were in Waco to honor those first responders who died in the blast on April 18. Plano Fire Chief Brian Crawford said they had 12 members of their crew in Waco. Crawford said some of the Plano firefighters were in the honor guard at Thursday's memorial and others in the drum and bugle corps. McKinney firefighter Tim Mock said there would be 15 members of their crew, including the fire chief, at the memorial.Twitter: @bynickdean
The service in Waco
Today's memorial service for the victims of the West explosion begins at 2 p.m. at Baylor University's Ferrell Center, 1900 S. University Parks Drive in Waco.
The service is open to the public on a first-come basis. President Barack Obama and Gov. Rick Perry are scheduled to speak.
All of those attending will go through airport-like security, and no bags, sharp objects, liquids, firearms or signs will be allowed.
Cameras and cellphones are permitted.
Public parking will be available at Floyd Casey Stadium with shuttle service beginning at 10 a.m. The doors open at 11 a.m. and will remain open until 1:45 p.m., or until the center is full.