Finally with a firm body count, the Central Texas town torn and bruised by a crater-making fertilizer plant explosion shifted toward recovery.
Residents moved ahead with what they could — a contractor to rebuild, a funeral home to arrange a service — but continued to wait for authorities to let them back in their neighborhoods and release the remains of the 14 dead.
Many among West's 2,800 residents felt stuck. Unable to direct their full energies to recovery while the investigation into what caused Wednesday's explosion at West Fertilizer Co. began in earnest, the displaced and mourning made do with what remained in their control.
Bill Killough, 76, paced the lobby of a local hotel Friday, planning how to make the most of whatever time authorities grant him to visit his house 2 ½ blocks from the site.
"Once they get through totally going over that fertilizer plant that blew up and they are satisfied that it is no danger to anybody, there is no reason why we shouldn't be allowed to go back to our houses," said Killough, who used to restore classic cars.
Killough said his handyman could help him grab his guns, wrapping the rifles in blankets while he focused on his wife's list of items, mostly documents that will be important in the recovery stage.
He briefly was able to sneak back in shortly after the blast and said the damage was bad, but not much worse than when they stripped it back to its frame to renovate a couple years ago. The blast ripped homes, schools and a nursing home within a four- to five-block radius, injuring more than 200.