Candlelight Vigil for Explosion Victims - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Candlelight Vigil for Explosion Victims

Shirley Cherry, right, hugs a friend at Saturday night's candlelight vigil. Shirley Cherry, right, hugs a friend at Saturday night's candlelight vigil.

PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - Many of the employees of the Imperial Sugar Refinery and their families gathered tonight for a prayer vigil across from the plant. In the midst of candles and prayers, Shirley Cherry leaned on faith and family, the Dixie Crystals' family that called Imperial Sugar its home. Even in shock and sorrow, nothing could keep her from Saturday night's vigil.

"I was there and I had to come to show them how much I love them, how much I'm praying for them and how much I'm thinking about them," said Shirley Cherry, who also works for the company.

Father Michael Kavanaugh reminded everyone how Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church traces directly back to the plant's founding families with Cajun roots in Louisiana.

"Maybe we have waited all this time for definition, our defining moment," said Father Kavanaugh.

But religion, race and little else mattered tonight, just the bond of a community rocked by tragedy, but not defeated.

"It's been amazing! It's been awesome," said Cherry, about the way the community came together since Thursday's explosion. "They have worked in a spirit of excellence at every level. You would have thought they were parked out on Highway 25 the way they raced in, in numbers. The response was outstanding."

They held the lights from their candles toward the scene, showing resolve to each other and the rest of the world. Since Thursday night, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church has worked with the Savannah Red Cross, the Salvation Army and others to provide shelter and help to the victims and their families.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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