Family, city mourn over worst tragedy in recent history

Feb. 8, 2008, the day after the Imperial Sugar Explosion
Feb. 8, 2008, the day after the Imperial Sugar Explosion
Reverend George Moore
Reverend George Moore

By Brooke Kelley - bio | email

PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - The night of February 7, 2008 will always mean something to Savannah since the Imperial Sugar Refinery Explosion. The explosion ripped through the plant killing 14 and ripped a whole in the fabric of Port Wentworth and surrounding communities.

Three years have passed and the pain and suffering is still very real and even more so for families of those killed and the dozens who were injured.

Many of the employees and victims say they will always remember exactly what happened that night. Port Wentworth Mayor Glenn Jones says the weather Monday describes the mood of when the anniversary rolls around.

"It still brings haunting memories. It's a day that you'll never forget and one of those days you'll always remember where you were when it happened," reflected Jones.

The pain of that night is all too real and so Reverend George Moore along with with several other ministers in the community organized a tribute in support of the victims and their families. Moore says it's their faith that has really gotten them through the last three years and they need all the support they can get.

"We are reflecting remembering-there were many affected by the sugar refinery explosion which we thought was senseless in this community it affected so many families young families children that will grow up without their loved ones never be able to see children graduate from high school and it's a very sensitive issue as it relates to the spiritual community." Said Moore.

For John Butler Sr., the pain of losing his eldest son, John Butler Jr. and nephew Alphonso Fields Sr. in the explosion is still very real.

"We are coping one day at a time. Some days it's good but right now as we approach birthdays, Christmas it's rough." sighed Butler.

Not only was his eldest killed, but his youngest son, Jamie, was badly burned in the explosion. That night will forever be etched in his mind as well as all the trips back and forth to th Augusta Burn Center.

"I am grateful that I still have my baby boy that survived and he is doing as well as can be expected. Some days better than others."

Butler describes the last three years as an uphill battle, which is why on the third anniversary he says its important for him and all of us to remember those who lost their lives.

"In a case like this it's very important."

Faith and family is what continues to help him through each day.

"We rely on one another and I am grateful we are there for each other."

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