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Nearby residents evacuated to shelter

7/16/2013

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Angela Brown said she awoke to what she thought was a loud clap of thunder early this morning.

It didn't take the Hays woman long to learn it was more serious than that. Within an hour or so, she and her husband, John Brown, were being evacuated from their home in Parkview Mobile Home Park.

A train derailed nearby, near the intersection of Eighth and Vine, and the noise Brown heard was an explosion.

Twelve people, including two young children, in the park and adjacent apartments were removed from their homes by emergency personnel and moved to the activity center at Holy Family Elementary School, 18th and Vine.

The Browns were in good spirits at 6:30 this morning as they dozed off and on outside the old gymnasium on cots provided by the American Red Cross, with their two pet dogs between them.The evacuation order was in effect from the time of the accident at approximately 1:25 a.m. until Tuesday afternoon, when residents were allowed to return home.

The Browns' two children were not home at the time and were to return to Hays today after a visit with their grandmother.

"I've already called her and told her not to bring them home today," Brown said.

Laddie Yates, who lives in one of the apartments near the mobile home park, was smoking a cigarette and drinking a cup of coffee nearby while his wife, Carol Dinges, slept inside the building. His son, Ned Yates, 17, also was home at the time and went to stay at a friend's house along with the family dog.

McDonald's provided coffee and breakfast to emergency personnel and the residents at Holy Family.

Yates said he was following his normal morning routine, although he's usually not sitting on the fender of a Red Cross vehicle.

Despite getting little, if any, sleep, Yates said he still was making plans to go to his job at Kleerwater Pools and Spas today.

But Angela Brown said she called her employers at Walmart and told them she wouldn't be able to make it to work today.

"Luckily, he was scheduled to be off work today," she said of her husband.

"But, I barely have clothes on; I can't go to work like this," she said with a laugh as she lay covered with a blanket in the cool early-morning air.

When the displaced residents arrived at Holy Family at approximately 3:30 a.m., Red Cross volunteer Maureen Duffy said they had not yet received clearance to have pets in the gym.

The animals were boarded outside in travel kennels provide by Hays animal control.

"We chose to sleep out here with our babies," Angela Brown said of the family's pets.

Duffy said she and Meagan Carver, service center manager for the American Red Cross, had been in touch throughout the night, and "we will continue to plan as the day goes on."

Duffy was unsure when the residents could return to their homes. Until then, the Red Cross will provide lodging.

"This is one of our designated (emergency) shelters," Duffy said. "So it worked out well for this (small) amount of people."