March 12, 2015 — Today is the anniversary of the gas line explosion that caused two buildings to collapse just a few short blocks from our office here in East Harlem. We grieve with those who lost family members and friends, and recognize the struggle faced by those displaced or whose homes and property were damaged as a result of the explosion.
We also express deep gratitude for the outpouring of support from around the NYC region: LSA received donations of clothing, linen, towels, toiletries, and even mattresses. And we acknowledge our partner agencies in the community, who collaborated with us to meet the emotional and material needs of our neighbors who were affected.
We knew there were LSA clients living both in and near the buildings that collapsed. Within hours of the explosion, we began outreach to families and were able to provide assistance right away. LSA client advocates went to PS 57, the temporary center for people in need of immediate assistance. They were able to identify families that needed help and, as the few Spanish speakers on site, were able to translate for the Red Cross and provide comfort to those who spoke no English.
In the days that followed, our Advocacy program formed a team that went door-to-door throughout the neighborhood to identify more families in need of support, who may not have otherwise come forward due to language barriers or immigration status. In addition, our Environmental Health program responded to the potential health risks of dust and debris in the air.
After the explosion, LSA:
- Provided food from our pantry.
- Replaced damaged property, including clothing, bedding, and anything else families needed to get on their feet again.
- Helped families in neighboring buildings clean dust and broken glass from their homes.
- Provided air filters and conducted lead tests.
- Continued to monitor homes to make sure they were safe to live in.
A year later, families we helped still come to LSA. Most were able to find new homes in East Harlem, while a few have chosen to remain outside the neighborhood. They continue to share with us their grief and their fear. LSA remains a source of help and emotional support to those in need.