Rebuilding homes, lives 1 year after Ewing explosion

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Tara Jones and her husband, Bill, lost everything on March 4th, 2014. (WPVI)

Tara Jones and her husband, Bill, lost everything on March 4th, 2014.

It was the day a gas leak led to an explosion in their Ewing Township, New Jersey neighborhood.

"We were left with the clothes on our back that day," Tara said.

The blast damaged or destroyed 55 homes and took the life of their friend and neighbor, Linda Cerritelli.

"It's very hard to just take in. I know it's a year later and it still feels like it was last month," Tara said.

The explosion was triggered by contractors who accidentally hit a gas main at the South Fork condo complex.

"Stupidity. That caused the explosion," said Marsha Solomon, who was forced out of her home for eight months after the blast.

She is critical of PSE&G and contractors Henkels and McCoy for allegedly never notifying police about the gas leak.

A year later, some homes that survived the blast are still boarded up and being repaired. Construction is set to begin soon on the 11 that were condemned and knocked down.

"When I came to I crawled up the stairs and looked to my right. I saw fire and that half of my house was not there," said Jim McManimon.

In addition to being an explosion victim, McManimon is also the township administrator. He says healing from the trauma has been hard. Knocked unconscious in the explosion, his hearing was damaged and, over the last year, he's dealt with nightmares and post traumatic stress disorder.

"I wish I could just shake it and go back to doing the things that I did, but it's been hard," McManimon said.

The explosion has taken a toll emotionally and financially. McManimon had insurance, the Jones' did not.

Both are waiting for their homes to be rebuilt, but after what happened they have reservations about moving back.

Property managers expect it'll take about a year and a half to rebuild the condos that had to be leveled.

Related Topics:
n.j. newsexplosiongas leakfireEwing Township
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