San Bruno residents try to figure out next steps

September 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Thursday morning the bulldozers will move into San Bruno to help clear out the debris and ashes in a burned out neighborhood after a natural gas pipeline exploded. People who lost their homes in the blast are now asking "then what happens?"

A meeting took place at a local caf? with the goal of helping residents move forward. They had a lot of questions and weren't afraid to ask them.

"I'm sure everybody wants to know, how did this happen," said homeowner Kathy Derenzi.

And with that question, the meeting about homeowners' rights began. The last minute meeting took place, not far from the epicenter -- where so many lives changed Sept. 9.

A panel of attorneys and contractors gathered to help.

"This is a very, very local kind of operation that's before you now," said attorney George Corey.

Everyone on the panel had some tie to San Bruno and they came ready to give advice.

"My suggestion would be is if you meet with an adjuster and they write a scope of repairs, you need to be sure you understand what it is they are going to repair," said construction expert Pat Kelley.

"Start inventorying," said attorney Vedica Puri.

"Does everybody have their insurance policy? That's the first thing you have to get," said attorney Don Dowling.

For some coming to the meeting was a small step on the path toward starting over.

"There's nothing left, all just ash," said evacuee Carlos Balagot.

Balagot lost his home on Earl Avenue and right now everything feels over whelming as questions and the bills are piling up.

"What our rights are for insurance, thinking about rebuilding, and there's the mortgage issue -- we have to pay that still, so are we really stuck here or what's going to happen with that?" said Balagot.

Money was on many minds. One class action lawsuit and several individual suits already have been filed against PG&E. Still, the focus of the night was on the future.

"San Bruno is a hell of a community and its going to rise from the ashes," said attorney Mike Valencia.

Something that could help, financially at least, is emergency legislation introduced by Sen. Leland Yee. It would offer tax break to those who lost their homes.


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