Jose Tovar is welcomed by his neighbor from across the street, Nellie Bishop. They haven't seen much of each other over the last two years. The Bishop's house survived the explosion and fire, the Tovars' did not. But, Tovar is about to start rebuilding. He says it's been a painful two years waiting for this moment, "Oh it's like a nightmare, you know, because anywhere you go you don't feel like home."
The September 9, 2010 pipeline explosion and fire killed 8 people and destroyed 38 homes. Many more people were injured and more homes damaged. For the first year after the disaster, the neighborhood was a scar of empty lots. Now it's a full-blown construction zone.
"Its nonstop, it's nonstop except for Sundays, they even sometimes come out and work on Saturdays and our driveway has been dug up 5 times now, and we're not sure why," Bishop said.
The city has set up an office on one of the lots, staffed with three people to help oversee all the work. Eight of the 38 homes destroyed have been rebuilt and 13 more are underway. It's uncertain what will happen to the rest
"People are building their houses and, you know, everyday you get to see what a great house that is, oh man, my house stinks," survivor Phil Piserchio said. Nonetheless, Piserchio is grateful that his house and family survived.
Sunday the city is unveiling a memorial plaque at the city park, and hosting a host a social for residents. But some here say they prefer it to stay in the neighborhood, where it happened, where they lost 8 friends and neighbors forever.
"We feel it should be where it was last year and where the actual blast site had taken place, up at the corner of Glenview and Claremont. And to us, that is the special spot for us," Bishop said.
The neighborhood has discussed the possibility of some kind of memorial or plaque in the neighborhood, at possibly a little park on Glenview. The city wants to be clear that the plaque being unveiled on Sunday is a separate deal and would in no way prevent or preclude a neighborhood memorial from taking shape someday down the road.