MARENGO — A northern Illinois family is starting over after their home was the center of an explosion that damaged more than 50 houses and caused widespread power outages.
Many of the St. Clair family’s neighbors thought they had perished in the June 11 natural gas explosion in Marengo that sent two people to the hospital, The Northwest Herald reported. No one from the family of five was home when the blast occurred, but the family’s cat died in the explosion.
“You can imagine living on a street and having people as your friends and neighbors for over 13 years, having this explosion and realizing they’re thinking you’re dead,” said Dawn St. Clair, the matriarch of the family.
Mike St. Clair says his family had just finished a trip in Arizona when they learned about the explosion from a neighbor.
“Your house is gone. Your house just blew up. The next-door neighbors’ are on fire,” said Mike St. Clair, recalling the incident. “It was surreal. What do you do?”
The Marengo community has rallied together to assist all of those affected by the explosion.
Marengo area OutReach Enterprises Executive Director Robert Botts said it has collected more than $115,000, plus $7,000 in gift cards, since July. The group has also collected along with household goods and clothing, but he said organizers are struggling to coordinate all the donations and gifts.
“They ended up putting it in a big warehouse,” Dawn St. Clair said. “They couldn’t even keep it on-site.”
The St. Clairs said they felt fortunate their insurance company put them in a hotel after the explosion. They now are living in a temporary town house in Marengo.