I was working at Blockbuster Video that day. We heard the explosion and then felt a concussion that knocked most of the video tapes off the New Release wall that ran along the back of the building. At first, we all thought that a large vehicle had run into the store because the noise was so loud and the impact were so strong. I unlocked the back door and found nothing there. Then we started hearing sirens from every direction as emergency vehicles began racing to the scene. My store was at least 5 miles from the refinery.
Juannie was at home sleeping and the explosion blew open the front door to his apartment. He thought his roommate was playing a joke on him but his roommate was also asleep so they called me to ask if I knew what was happening. We were all still clueless at the store. Juannie started flipping around and after about fifteen minutes, the local channels started reporting about the explosion. If I remember correctly, two people died and many were injured.
Now that I am thinking about this day, it was quite a memorable Christmas Eve. December 1989 was one of the coldest I experienced in Louisiana. The temperature had been at freezing or below for 4-5 days which is very unusual. Juannie lived in a big apartment complex near the university (LSU) and all the students were gone for the holidays except for him and his roommate and one other resident in their four-plex. This other resident left right before Christmas without doing anything to prevent the pipes from freezing.
The pipes froze and then on Christmas Eve night, they began to thaw. I was at Juannie's apartment waiting to celebrate Christmas while he was doing his Blockbuster shift (they really are open 365 days a year until midnight). I kept noticing wet spots on the kitchen floor and mopping them up thinking the fridge was leaking. Then I realized that the carpet in the living room was becoming very wet all along one wall of the entire apartment.
The apartment with the frozen pipes was upstairs but not directly above his place. I was trying to figure out where the water was coming from while on the phone with his landlord. I walked outside and saw water pouring off the balcony like a waterfall from the second floor apartment. I managed to save the presents, their stereo equipment, TV and furniture by moving it all against the opposite wall and into the other rooms of their very small apartment. The Christmas tree was left to fend for itself against the water. We still managed to have a fun time opening our presents and drinking. And this is the story of my first Christmas with Juannie.