Residents Displaced by Apartment Explosion Wonder: What Now?

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As the mountain of rubble piles up at the Highland Hills Apartments in Dallas, so do the questions.

“What’s going to happen next,” asks displaced resident Audelia Camarillo. “What are we supposed to do as the tenants who live here? Are they still going to want us to pay the rent? Where are they going to put us at?”

Camarillo and her family are among approximately 250 residents staying at two hotels in downtown Dallas.

The Red Cross is assisting those impacted by Wednesday’s explosion, believed to be a natural gas explosion in one of the buildings.

At least two other buildings in the complex suffered damage, including broken windows.

Camarillo wasn’t home when the building in front of hers exploded.

Four civilians were injured and have been discharged from the hospital, according to authorities.

“If this had happened on the weekend, people would have died,” said Camarillo. “Our children play out here. This is supposed to be a safe community for our children and it’s not.”

Residents said they’ve complained to the leasing office about maintenance problems, including the smell of natural gas.

“We’ve been smelling gas in my apartment for a long time and they aint did nothing about it,” said Eric George on Wednesday. He said his unit is among those that exploded.

“The night before yes, there was smells of gas,” said Camarillo.

The company that owns the property provided NBC 5 the following statement:

Mountain Creek Apts LP, the owner of the Highland Hills Apartments in Dallas, was recently informed of the incident that occurred today at the complex. Emergency management officials and first responders are on‐site working alongside property management personnel to assess the situation and work with displaced residents on relocation options. We are in the process of gathering information and awaiting
the Fire Department’s report on the cause. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this situation.

It’s still unclear what exactly caused the blast and how many residents will be forced out.

A still shaken Nekeshia Williams, who was blown off her feet in the blast, tells NBC 5 she and her husband are staying at one of the hotels provided.

They drove to their complex on Thursday and asked police if they could go into their unit to get some of their belongings. They said they were told their building will likely be torn down as well.

Hoping to ease the burden many residents are feeling, the non-profit For Oak Cliff spent the day handing out food and toiletries to families affected by the blast.

The group is asking for donations from the community.

“We got clothes, pet food, diapers,” said Kevin White and Michael Berry of the group. “Feminine products if they need it, deodorant, soaps, even some cleaning products.”

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