San Bruno residents do final search of homes

September 19, 2010 10:53:21 AM PDT
Some San Bruno residents who lost nearly everything got one more chance Saturday to return and look through what's left of their homes.

A few families returned for one last chance to go search through the rubble and find anything they may have missed before. For the Gray family, it was a good day. Charlie and Caroline Gray had the help of firefighters as they searched for what is left of their belongings buried in the ashes.

"Three of them were searching through, and not in the safe or anything like that, but she has her mother's rings and things like that. They found them. They found a lot of jewelry and stuff like that," Charlie said.

"I said it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack, if you could find any, and all of a sudden one says, 'Here's the needle in the haystack,'" recalled Caroline.

Many people lost important documents, but again, the Gray's had kept their will, the deed to the house, and other papers in a safe deposit box which somehow survived the intensity of the fire.

Preparing for a major disaster was the focus of an event Saturday sponsored by San Mateo County. For the past six years, families have attended to learn how to react to an earthquake and other disasters. On Saturday, most everyone wanted to know how to turn the gas off.

In the case of an explosion like the one in San Bruno, there are things one can do.

"What you want to do is you want to make sure you get out of your house. You want to make sure, if you know who you neighbors are, make sure they get out of the house. And, you also want to have a place to call a family member outside the area to let them know you are OK," San Mateo County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier said. "If everybody in the family calls that person, then you don't have to worry about who's missing."

That is what the Grays did.

"We even had our son in Arizona as our contact person in case anybody wanted to know what happened to us, they could call down there," Gray said.

The debris cleanup will begin next week. While this is happening, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District will install monitors to check what particles are in the air.

"We don't know what is going to happen now. I'm concerned about many things now," resident Margaret Sullivan said.

Sullivan was in her house when the explosion occurred last Thursday. She is having a hard time sleeping at night.

"Now, I can feel my body shaking. I'll be alright. I'll be alright. I consider myself very lucky to be alive and the house is up," she told ABC.

The American Red Cross has been very helpful in counseling people like Sullivan. Fortunately, they have very few cases as most people have found a place to live. The Red Cross will be open through the weekend from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the San Bruno Recovery Center at 900 Cherry Street on the third floor.


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