PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - The images of the smoldering, destroyed Imperial Sugar refinery remain etched in the mind of Mayor Glenn "Pig" Jones. He saw the destruction firsthand on the ground, and then in a helicopter above the plant. He immediately thought of those employees still missing.
"I said oh my God," he told us on Monday. "I just prayed, I said please let them be under a piece of block. Something that someone will be able to hear a holler, or a scream. It's something I never want to see again."
The sugar refinery is home to generations of employees, some he grew up with years ago on a ball field, but he considers all to be family. Including one refinery worker, who has yet to be found.
This is something Jones, mayor for almost three years, never thought he'd have to deal with. And as close knit as the City of Port Wentworth is, it's hit him especially hard. He's been at the site every day, for hours at a time.
"Until we find all the bodies and we find some kind of closure for these families, so they can start resting a little bit, knowing they have their family member, I won't sleep," Jones told us tiredly.
As the community grieves over those affected by the refinery explosion, Mayor Jones says the outpouring of support from other cities continues to grow. He hopes, for the victim's families sake, it continues.
"Keep praying for families that have lost loved ones," he said. "Pray for the 17 families and the three that were treated and released. They still need our prayers."
Prayers for a community that will never be the same.
Flags fly at half staff in front of City Hall, in remembrance that the heart of their city, and some of their family members, are gone. But Mayor Jones believes as the days, and weeks go by, Port Wentworth residents will move forward, stronger than ever.
"We will grieve. We will be with the families. We will attend funerals. That part will be tough," Mayor Jones said, "but what this does, is bring a family closer together, our city, our community."
Mayor Jones also went on to thank all the public safety officials, police officers and firefighters. He also went on to thank the American Red Cross and others who helped the community on the night of the explosion and the days following.