City of Durham seeking to help businesses impacted by gas explosion

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Three businesses at ground zero of the gas explosion are seeking help from the City of Durham to rebuild and recover.

The city set up an office Monday inside the former Liggett and Myers Warehouse. The temporary office is located on the second floor in Durham Tech's Small Business Center at 701 West Main Street.

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On Monday, the city's senior economic developer, Brian Smith, logged a list of businesses who reached out for help.

"I've been a business owner myself," Smith said. "I know what it's like to have a business interruption like this. And so personally I feel for not only the family of the owner Kaffeinate, but the other businesses on that block."

Smith's task is to find out what each business needs and then coordinate financial institutions, grassroots organizations, job placement services, community groups, and individuals to meet that need.

One person died in the explosion. Twenty fiver were injured.

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One person remains at Duke University hospital in critical condition. Three patients are being treated at UNC Hospital.

Many of the people injured in the explosion on North Duke Street are now out of a job.

"Some of them have workers' compensation that's going to run out at some point," stated Smith.

Kelli Mclean with NC Works Center is one of the people Smith is working with to help businesses and employees.

"We are giving all the information and resources to help in anyway that we can to make sure our people, the citizens of Durham are good," McClean said.

Neighbors living near the blast say they are doing better.

Parts of West Village Apartments on Morgan Street where Evan Peacock and her dog Delilah live remain battered and bruised.

"That was certainly scary for some of our friends who live there," Peacock said. "They have not returned yet to their apartment because there windows are blown out. They're boarded up now."

West Village property managers are telling tenants the buildings are all in tact, and crews will be cleaning up debris and glass this week.

Businesses shutdown during last week's explosion are reopening.

Ramblers Beer and Wine reopened on Monday at 5 p.m.

Owners of the bar are hosting a food truck event Monday night and a fundraiser to help businesses still closed.

Smith's office at Durham Tech's Small Business Center will be open now through Thursday from 9 to 5 p.m.
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