LOS ANGELES - City officials say 20 families are still living in hotels after being displaced due to a fireworks explosion in South Los Angeles caused by an LAPD mishap.
The explosion on East 27th Street on June 30 left 17 people hurt and caused major damage to nearby cars and properties – this after the container designed to safely detonate the explosives failed catastrophically. LAPD claims its experts felt it would be easier to detonate the fireworks in a special container because some of the devices were not safe to be transported.
Devontay, a pregnant mother of five children is one of the displaced residents following the explosion. Devontay, her spouse, and children moved to the neighborhood on May 1 and had to leave June 30 after the incident.
"Having to have left here from June 30 until now, it's been pretty difficult," she said.
Devontay was in the neighborhood sitting in her car with her children when the explosion happened. She evacuated her home after LAPD knocked on her door telling them to leave until the fireworks were safely detonated.
"We sat in the car literally right across the street and there's people walking by, and there was a big explosion. It just was like pow, so the windows over there shattered, the car kind of shook, the kids cried," she said.
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The family vehicles were damaged too. The family has lived in a hotel ever since. She said it is difficult to return to the neighborhood due to trauma.
"Coming back here is very traumatic. It's traumatic because you invested your trust into the police, that they would do what they were supposed to do as far as detonating that in a safe place, away from neighbors? If you're in a safe environment, you leave room for error which they didn't," she said.
She said there are programs that have been assisting families and she's grateful for the help, and the hotel stays – which she described as "nice" – but does question how some of the funds have been distributed.
"I think maybe they could have taken that money instead of paying $200 to $300 a night and given that money for people to go get a home," she said.
St. John's Well Child and Family Center provided a mobile health care clinic bringing medical services to families impacted by the explosion, and Councilmember Curren Price attended the event.
"We need to have a recovery plan for this area, not just this street, but the neighboring streets as well," said Price.
The Los Angeles City Council passed a motion introduced by Price for $5 million in funding to help the neighborhood. When asked about where the money is being used, Price said it will likely go towards services.
"Primarily towards services, but the recommendation has not been made yet how it's going to be dispersed," he said.
Price said the money would be dispersed within "the next couple of months."
"I would say within the next couple of months, you want to see these program dollars being dispersed and being administered in a way that benefits this area and this community," said Price.
Price said there have been properties that have been repaired on the street.
"We've had seven properties that have been completed, in other words, windows replaced, new paint jobs done, four are currently in progress and there are two that have asked us to stop work that's in progress. We can't make individuals accept our help so we're working closely with those who want to work with us. We currently have some 20 families still in the hotels and we're not going to be satisfied until they're back in their homes," he said.
Price said it's a case-by-case basis.
"Every case is different. This is not a cookie-cutter kind of response so we're dealing with each family, each household individually, getting exactly what they need to move forward and sometimes it takes time," he said.
City officials said they are unable to work on homes without a declaration or sign-off from the property owners.
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