Thursday, March 13, 2014


Two buildings exploded at 116th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem yesterday morning at 9:31 a.m. It was a gray morning, not a clear blue one, but it brought back memories of the day two other buildings exploded, and everything was forever changed. The death toll is rising, now at seven souls. More than 60 people sustained injuries. Tenants of surrounding building cannot go back into their homes. Their windows blew out and their apartments are unprotected from the elements. The temperature fell last night into the 20s and heavy rains came down.

My friend Leslie, who lives six blocks away, felt her apartment shake with the boom. We had dinner last night because she was still feel shaky, reliving the emotions that rocked her after 9/11. When you live alone, she explained, these things slide more deeply inside you, because there is no one around you to show you that life is continuing on. You might as well be alone on the planet.

I cannot fathom people just going about their day, an ordinary morning just like any other, and then their whole world is in rubble around them. It was a gas main explosion apparently, and the people in one building had been complaining of smelling gas for weeks, and there were apparently no carbon monoxide detectors in the apartments. Compounding the hell was a sinkhole that opened up beneath the concrete and steel debris, so that heavy vehicles and rescue machinery couldn't be brought in. The rooftops of surrounding buildings were covered with firefighters, the streets still filled with EMT uniforms. Overnight, new flares bloomed as the remaining fuel from the leak burned off. Today, the recovery and clean-up continues. My son isn't there with them. Not yet.


  1. It's so strange to me- if this had been an act of "terrorism" all hell would have broken loose. But because it's not, it gets mentioned in the media but then...on we go to the next thing. And yet- the same number of lives have been lost, no matter the cause, the same number of people have been thrown back into the PTSD of 9/11, the same smoke, the same rubble, the same blood, the same tears, the same horror.
    Your city goes through so much. The people who live there, you, are so strong.
    I am so sorry this happened. And it could so easily have been prevented.

  2. I just heard about this on the news and was wondering if your boy was there.

  3. They were smelling gas and no one in charge of such things did anything. I still haven't heard many details about that, and it makes me so angry. What could be a more obvious signal of danger? This is just so heartbreaking, so sad. So sad so sad so sad. I think Ms. Moon is right - you people who live in that city go through so much, are so strong. Any city is hard enough, but New York...

  4. I thought about you when I heard about this explosion. I know you live across town -- can you see it from your windows? Such a horrible situation.