Some explosion evacuees allowed to return home

By: Taylor Temby Email
By: Taylor Temby Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - After two nights with friends and family or at hotels, some evacuees will be heading home. The announcement was made Thursday afternoon after authorities determined gas levels were safe enough in some areas of 7th Street. For now, just ten structures remain evacuated.

Residents were glad to hear the announcement the houses south of Mesa and 7th Street have been cleared so they can return home. All traces of natural gas were gone in these homes, but gas levels in some areas still remain a concern, especially with Thursday’s weather.

Crews were drilling holes along the streets, trying to clear out as much gas as possible so those other residents can get back to their daily lives. Experts say a wetter ground makes it more difficult for gas to dissipate.

The day started again, though, with uncertainty.

"[We’re] hoping tonight we'll be able to sleep in our own beds," 7th Street resident Camilla Jacobson said of her family.

Some grabbed more possessions from their homes, others made the trek through their houses for the latest gas readings and all of them held the hope that tonight would be the night they could finally go home.

"They have to do a home to home inspection, make sure there's no gas in the home," evacuee Justin Capehart said of Thursday morning’s walk-throughs.’

For the lucky ones, life returned to normal this afternoon. Xcel went house to house, turning on power and doing one last check for gas before saying goodbye.

"I had to get up way earlier this morning because I had to get to school," evacuee Mary Kupinski said. Kupinski and her family will be heading home tonight.

Authorities say the explosive levels of gas dropped significantly overnight, but it still wasn't safe for everyone. Now for others, it will be a third straight night sleeping somewhere different.

"I’m going to go back to my son and daughter-in-law's house," evacuee Carol DuKett-Cotts said. “I want to walk back in my house knowing that it's totally safe to go back, so that's okay with me."

DuKett-Cotts says she’s willing to stay out as long as it takes just to make sure everything is okay.

Two days away from home is proving to be an adjustment for families, but many are working to keep things in perspective.

"I kind of had to sneak [back into my home] because my daughter is diabetic and she needed some things very badly," evacuee Camilla Jacobson said. "I think that's how we all are, we're just ready to go home."

Most importantly, those evacuated residents are asking the community to remember there are others who won't be returning to a home at all, and there are ways to support them.

"i think all of us around here we're just so very grateful we have a house."

As you can imagine... It can be scary for some residents to return home after what happened. Authorities told residents if they think they smell even the slightest amount of natural gas, they

Another briefing will be held at the Seventh Day Adventist Church Friday morning. Those looking for more information can call the evacuee hotline at 549-5130.


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