Images by WTOC staff and viewers of Imperial Sugar refinery fire and response on February 7, 2008.More >>
PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - Support has been pouring in all over our area to help those coping with the devastation of the explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery.
But just across the street from the refinery there's a church helping those in the community pull together during this time of tragedy.
What happened on Thursday evening not only hit home for Donnie Barras' family but almost took his heart.
"My mind is racing over what could've happen," said Barras.
Donnie and his wife Carole were vacationing in North Carolina when they got word from their children there was an explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery. The same refinery he had worked for 51 years and met his wife. The same place two of their sons and two grandsons still work. But it was their 20 year old grandson, Joseph, who was in the refinery at the time of the blast.
"At the time it blew up he was luckily in the break room safe away," said Barras.
"He experienced this at a young age and these images will never leave him," said Carole Barras.
So stunned by the news, they left their vacation early to be with family but didn't get to see Joseph until Saturday's vigil.
"I didn't hear his voice until the vigil and I got a hug and that meant a lot," said Barras.
Barras says during this time of devastation it's been his church congregation at Our Lady of Lordes that's helped not only his family but the entire community pull together.
"The refinery brought people to the church. When things happen you think about God and you pray and that's why we come to church and get together," said Barras.
Which is what this community is doing now, coming together.
"It helps to get together and see how others are doing," said Carole Barras. "I feel very blessed, I can't imagine how those other families feel."
Barras says they plan on taking donations to the Augusta Burn Centers today.