Friday, February 8, 2008

Sugar

I meant to do a fabulous post thanking a bunch of people for awards that have been bestowed on me recently (despite the fact that I've done very little actual blogging, what's wrong with you people?), but an incident last night has pre-empted my orginally scheduled post. So, Mya, Dumdad and Jo, I promise, you will get your due in a couple of days, but there's something much more important I need to cover this morning.

Last night, there was an explosion at the Imperial Sugar Refinery, a few miles down the highway from where I live, in Port Wentworth, Georgia. It used to be the Dixie Crystals refinery, before Imperial bought them out, and it's been part of the Savannah landscape for generations. Whole families have worked there, one generation after another, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters.

It appears sugar dust in a silo next to the bagging facility may have combusted, according to a company CEO who just happened to be in town this week, and as we all know, sugar is very flammable. No official cause has been given as I write this. Most of the injuries appear to be burn related, with around ten people airlifted to the burn center in Augusta, which is north of here. Several people are in critical condition. Part of the Savannah River is still closed to boat traffic, so tankers and container ships are still backed up out into the sea waiting to port and unload.

There appears to be a total of 41 injured, with six people still unaccounted for. Firefighters had the blaze under control, but there are still some hot spots in the building that are keeping them from searching for the missing.

The most amazing thing to me about the whole incident, is how quickly emergency teams responded with ambulances and fire crews coming from miles and miles away, from many different counties. A church across the street was being used for triage (it's now being used as a family information center), and the local elementary school is still being used as a staging area for emergency personnel and media. The Coast Guard patrolled the river, and the local Air National Guard unit contributed large scale firefighting equipment.

We have wonderful neighbours living in this community, people who care, and for that, I'm thankful.

Please keep all of the workers and their families in your thoughts, or your prayers, if you're so inclined.

For more info on this story, you can check out some our local TV coverage here, and here.

PS: One other thing... I used to live in Memphis, and I'm very familiar with the area that was destroyed by the tornadoes this week. I'm very lucky that no one I know was injured, but I'm one of the lucky ones. Keep those folks in your thoughts, too.

11 comments:

Mahala said...

I had no idea that sugar was flamable.

bellevelma said...

Can't help myself because this is the way my mind works, but that's like instant caramel isn't it?

Anyhoo... I will keep them in my thoughts and prayers.

Those affected by the tornados too.

Jen said...

Mahala Well, it's like flour or grain dust. All it takes is a spark, and then *boom*. When I lived in Memphis, I'd hear about grain silos going up in Arkansas and Missouri occasionally.

bellevelma And if you've ever had molten sugar on your skin, you know how painful that can be. And not quite instant caramel, you'd need milk and sugar for that, wouldn't you?

Kaycie said...

That's terrible. I used to live about 20 minutes from Augusta, in Aiken, SC. There are so many wonderful, friendly and caring people in that area. I will be thinking of them.

Being from Oklahoma, I've already been following the tornado stories. I've seen that devastation first hand, so I'm especially attuned to tornado aftermath.

Leendaluu said...

I thought of you this morning when I heard this on the news. The injured and the missing are certainly in my thoughts. I've set sugar on fire in my kitchen..in a split second of not watching.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

It's been a week of thinking of fellow bloggers with everything that's been going on. I also thought of you when I heard this story this morning. The tornadoes hit way too close to home for many of the people that I keep in contact with. And that City Council meeting in Missouri was also too close for comfort.

And common wisdom says that the internet isolates people???

The Rotten Correspondent said...

award at my place...

Dumdad said...

That's truly terrible: people going about their day-to-day lives then a disaster like this. And the poor burns victims who, if they survive, will face years and years of operations and therapy. We should count our blessings every day....

Kaycie said...

The sugar story is front page news here. So sad.

On another note, there is an award for you on my blog.

Diana said...

Wow. I didn't know it was so close to you. So scary and sad. Same with the horrible tornados. Such a sad week.

lillinda said...

Hi Jen, I live a few miles south of you ! Bloomingdale or Hooterville, as we call it.
I liked your profile. I think your pretty.If it counts.
Like Grandma says"Pretty is as pretty does!"
Linda