Related• Jobs at grain elevators have both risks, rewards
• Visit to parents’ house puts Lawrence woman near site of Atchison grain elevator blast
Rachelle Catloth didn’t just hear the explosion that shattered the Saturday evening silence in Atchison.
The Lawrence resident felt the blast as she made tiramisu in the kitchen of her parents’ home, less than a quarter-mile away from the Bartlett Grain Co. elevator down the hill.
“You feel it in your body,” said Catloth, who lived in the house for 22 years before moving last year to Lawrence, where she teaches piano. “Your heart sinks because you don’t know what happened. …
“Everything’s going through your head: What could that have possibly been?”
Catloth, her family and other friends in the house couldn’t have known what authorities have since confirmed: Six people are dead from the grain dust explosion, a blast that also sent two others to the burn unit at Kansas University Hospital.
Living atop a bluff overlooking railroad tracks comes with its share of noise, Catloth said, but never before had she felt such a concussion: one that shook the house, buckled windows and knocked dust loose from the ceiling above.
Catloth had to steady herself after being pushed against the stove. A friend in the living room wondered if they were facing the start of World War III.
She doesn’t know anyone killed or injured in the blast but feels for their families — and for the entire small community, one already facing difficult economic challenges.
“It’s terrible,” she said.