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Nonprofit steps in after Franklin explosion leaves neighborhood without hot water

More than two weeks later, people affected by an explosion in Berkley Court still have no hot water.

FRANKLIN, Va. — More than two weeks after an explosion at a duplex that sent two people to the hospital, some people who were living without hot water finally received help.

One of the people hurt in the explosion at Berkley Court on April 15, Michael Wiggins, later died from his injuries.

This week, people who live in the complex received copies of a letter explaining their options after the explosion. 

A joint news release from the nonprofit group VCDC and the City of Franklin said that people had been moved to hotel rooms as a temporary solution and that electric water heaters were being pursued as a long-term solution. 

The release went on to say, in part:

On Tuesday, residents of the community were personally contacted and offered the option to temporarily move into hotel rooms so they would have access to hot water and hot showers. VCDC will be paying the expenses of the hotel rooms, meals and expense related to transportation, for residents who choose to relocate. The City of Franklin is also working to ensure children have access to rides to school. Residents can also choose to stay in their apartments, despite no hot water, but have their monthly rent waived until hot water is restored. A shower trailer will remain on the property and is cleaned and sanitized between uses.

The lack of hot water hasn't been the only issue for the people in Berkley Court. Some said Wednesday they still are living in fear, not knowing exactly what happened.

“I’m steady hearing noises. I don’t eat, I can’t sleep. So, I leave home,” said Anna Smith, who saw the explosion from her home in April.

“I still hear that big loud noise and I still see the flames going up in the air,” said Smith, who also knew Wiggins, the man who died.

RELATED: UPDATE: One person has died two weeks after explosion, fire at home in Franklin

“We went to school together and, you know, he was a quiet person," Smith remembered. "He lived, he stayed by himself, he didn’t cause any confusion. He didn’t mess with nobody. He was just an ordinary man.”

Franklin City Council Member Gregory McLemore said the city is working together with property managers to put people up in hotels and that the property management agreed to give the people a stipend as well.

Raven Bates, a spokeswoman for VCDC, added the group is helping people with transportation and even making sure children have rides to school.

NAACP Franklin Chapter President Dr. Linwood Johnson said the organization is raising money for the victims' families.

“We’re giving money to the victim's family, Mr. Michael Wiggins, to his family for the funeral, and so forth,” said Johnson.

As of Wednesday, the group had raised $3,485 and donated $1,842.50 for funeral expenses.

Read the full press release from the City of Franklin below:

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