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Neighbors of Hogarth explosion carrying scars of trauma

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Hogarth Ave

Hogarth Ave

Almost a year later, and things still aren't back to normal

FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Nearly a year after a deadly house explosion on Hogarth Avenue in Flint - residents are still waiting to hear anything from investigators about the cause.

The blast killed a 55-year-old woman and a three-year-old girl and damaged dozens of homes in the surrounding area.

Flint Fire Chief Ray Barton told ABC12 that investigators from every level are sharing their findings with each other in Grandville Thursday.

The damage from the explosion is still apparent- from the site itself to the boarded-up homes up and down the street. And while some people have managed moved back in, others are still displaced.

Marie Copeland and her family had to evacuate the night of the blast.

But when they moved back in after months of repairs, they noticed the community was different. It didn't feel like the home it once did. Absent from the neighborhood now are many of the families that once lived there.

"The hardest part is not seeing the kids in the neighborhood- and the kids playing around and riding their bikes up and down the street. You know, stuff like that," Copeland said.

And she isn't the only one to see a change.

Victoria Osborn lives only a few doors down from where the home exploded. She said she only moved back in about three months ago.

And while she's happy to be back, Victoria some of her neighbors are considering other options- such as senior living communities.

Almost a year out, and many still carry the mental scars of the explosion

It's a tough place for many. While some have healed, others say they still suffer. One man who declined an interview told ABC12 the event has left him with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder- and that for some time, the lot where it all happened was a psychological trigger.

Victoria Osborn said the people who've come back to the neighborhood are still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

"I think everybody is kind of a little edgy from it. Like, 'are we gonna have to expect this another Sunday night?' Anyways, uneasy. Very uneasy" she said.

It's a story that's familiar to Copeland, who's kept in touch with her neighbors who have yet to return.

"They still are talking about how their kids are still struggling with nightmares and terrors from the explosion," Copeland described.

And Copeland said she and her son are no exception- and have dealt with with the aftereffects of trauma for months.

"We would struggle with loud noises. Especially if we were home. If we heard a loud noise we would both look at each other, like, 'oh no, what do we have to do,' you know? 'What was that,'" she said.

Even bright lights became a trigger that brought her back to that tragic night.

"It was so dark but bright- and bright light- sometimes night driving wasn't very easy for me," Copeland added.

And while she and her son have started to heal, she feels the families who lost their loved ones to the blast won't get a full recovery without answers.

"They want to know and they have a right to know so that they can maybe have a little more healing," said Copeland.

ABC12 reached out to Chief Barton for an update on the meeting, but he did not reply.

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