Montgomery Co. apt. explosion survivors still struggling 2 years later

Four members of Montgomery County Council, including Democratic County executive nominee Marc Elrich, were in attendance at the meeting  calling for more help for survivors of the August 2016 explosion at Flower Branch Apartments. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Four members of Montgomery County Council, including Democratic County executive nominee Marc Elrich, were in attendance at the meeting  calling for more help for survivors of the August 2016 explosion at Flower Branch Apartments. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The meeting, held at JoAnn Leleck Elementary School at Broad Acres in Silver Spring, Maryland, was packed. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The meeting, held at JoAnn Leleck Elementary School at Broad Acres in Silver Spring, Maryland, was packed. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Through the group Action in Montgomery, survivors of the 2016 explosion and fire -- which left 7 dead, dozens injured and dozens more displaced -- asked for help in three specific areas. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Through the group Action in Montgomery, survivors of the 2016 explosion and fire — which left 7 dead, dozens injured and dozens more displaced — asked for help in three specific areas. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Speaking mostly in Spanish, Flower Branch survivors Maria Victoria Reyes (pictured), Gustavo Zuniga and Edy Macario described what they have endured and asked Montgomery County council members for additional help, including rent assistance. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Speaking mostly in Spanish, Flower Branch survivors Maria Victoria Reyes (pictured), Gustavo Zuniga and Edy Macario described what they have endured and asked Montgomery County council members for additional help, including rent assistance. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Council member Hans Riemer said he supports all 3 of the survivors’ requests. “Thank you for helping us understand that we have more work to do ... Your county government wants to help," he said. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Council member Hans Riemer said he supports all 3 of the survivors’ requests. “Thank you for helping us understand that we have more work to do … Your county government wants to help,” he said. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
 Council member George Leventhal said he also supports the requests. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Council member George Leventhal said he also supports the requests. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
"I don't know how you evaluate an emergency response without evaluating the people who the emergency response was provided for, so that's something that we can certainly address," said Elrich. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
“I don’t know how you evaluate an emergency response without evaluating the people who the emergency response was provided for, so that’s something that we can certainly address,” said Elrich. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Council member Tom Hucker lives near Flower Branch Apartments and said he remembers the night of the explosion vividly. He said he believes the county did a lot of things right -- and a lot of things wrong. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Council member Tom Hucker lives near Flower Branch Apartments and said he remembers the night of the explosion vividly. He said he believes the county did a lot of things right — and a lot of things wrong. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
(1/8)
Four members of Montgomery County Council, including Democratic County executive nominee Marc Elrich, were in attendance at the meeting  calling for more help for survivors of the August 2016 explosion at Flower Branch Apartments. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The meeting, held at JoAnn Leleck Elementary School at Broad Acres in Silver Spring, Maryland, was packed. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Through the group Action in Montgomery, survivors of the 2016 explosion and fire -- which left 7 dead, dozens injured and dozens more displaced -- asked for help in three specific areas. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Speaking mostly in Spanish, Flower Branch survivors Maria Victoria Reyes (pictured), Gustavo Zuniga and Edy Macario described what they have endured and asked Montgomery County council members for additional help, including rent assistance. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Council member Hans Riemer said he supports all 3 of the survivors’ requests. “Thank you for helping us understand that we have more work to do ... Your county government wants to help," he said. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
 Council member George Leventhal said he also supports the requests. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
"I don't know how you evaluate an emergency response without evaluating the people who the emergency response was provided for, so that's something that we can certainly address," said Elrich. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Council member Tom Hucker lives near Flower Branch Apartments and said he remembers the night of the explosion vividly. He said he believes the county did a lot of things right -- and a lot of things wrong. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Nearly two years after a deadly explosion blew through the Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring, survivors have asked for more help as they continue trying to put their shattered lives back together.

The explosion and fire on Aug. 10, 2016, left 7 dead, dozens injured and dozens more displaced.

At a meeting organized by a group called Action in Montgomery and held at JoAnn Leleck Elementary School at Broad Acres Tuesday, several survivors described what they went through on the day of the tragedy, and what they’ve been dealing with since.

Maria Victoria Reyes said she was in her apartment with her daughter that night drinking coffee  when they heard a “rumble.”

The ceiling fell down on them, covering them with burned debris and glass.

“My daughter and I could only see each other’s faces and the sky even though we were in the basement. We were covered up to our necks. We could not move,” she said in Spanish.

Victoria Reyes said the injuries she suffered left her unable to work even though she wants to provide for her family, and that it has affected her mental health.

Although she has been able to visit and get help from therapists, she knows other survivors who have not.

In addition to improved access to mental health services, survivors who were relocated to other apartments want to prevent their rent from going up while they await the outcome of a combined lawsuit against Washington Gas and the apartment complex’s management company Kay Management.

They also want Montgomery County to re-evaluate its response to the explosion with the views of affected families included. A previous evaluation was completed without talking to survivors.

All four Montgomery County Council members who attended the meeting agreed to help with the requests.

“[After the explosion] the county, especially our first responders, did a lot of things right, and I think the county did a lot of things wrong as well,” said Council member Tom Hucker.

“We will be writing a letter to Kay Management, asking them to meet with the victims and their representatives,” Council member George Levinthal said.

“I don’t know how you evaluate an emergency response without evaluating the people who the emergency response was provided for, so that’s something that we can certainly address,” said Councilmember and Democratic nominee for County Executive Marc Elrich.

“Thank you for helping us understand that we have more work to do,” Council President Hans Riemer said.


Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2018 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up