SILVER SPRING, Md. (WDVM) — Almost 230 people were displaced after an explosion at the Friendly Garden Apartment complex on Thursday, March 3.
The explosion led to a massive fire and building collapse, and damaged half of the apartment buildings in the complex. Fire officials said around 100 people would be displaced, but that the goal was to get the rest of the residents back in their homes by Thursday night. However, there was an issue getting utilities turned on, so all of the residents needed somewhere to stay for the night.
On Friday morning, residents returned to the apartment complex and became more frustrated by a lack of response from the management team. Anita Atem, who has lived in the complex for eight years with her three children said, “It is just a total mess.”
Atem was at work when the explosion, fire and building collapse happened. She has been trying to get into her apartment to get her children’s asthma medication since.
She said, “I’m sitting here. I’m praying to God every day that my children will not have an attack, because when they have it, asthma is no joke.”
At the same time, the single mother is worried about where she and her children will be laying their head at night.
“I haven’t slept. I don’t really know what to say, because my sister is only willing to keep me for a certain period of time,” she explained.
On the other hand, Atem is frustrated with the lack of communication from the management office. She said they have not given the residents a phone call or any communication since the event happened.
She said, “I’m struggling. My head is heavy, because I don’t know what to do and they’re not telling us anything.”
Other residents echo what Atem said. One woman, who did not want to be identified, said that her apartment was in the building that collapsed. She said that she and her husband smelled gas before the explosion, and that she has not been able to get any answers or help from the management office, both prior to the explosion and now.
Another resident and full-time student, Dagwami Admasu, has other issues with the situation. He said that his building is adjacent to the one that collapsed, and therefore he parks his car in the immediate area.
“I asked yesterday if I can pick my car up. They didn’t allow me, but today they have towed my car without my permission, and want me to pay for it,” he said.
He told WDVM that the payment for the tow is $250. Meanwhile, he shelled out $150 for a hotel room on Thursday night, for fear of the COVID-19 pandemic with staying in the provided shelter.
The management company, ResidentialONE released a statement on LinkedIn. The statement is below:
“ResidentialONE is relieved to report that all residents Friendly Gardens are safe and accounted for following the March 3 apartment fire. Our thoughts are with the three members of the Friendly Gardens community who remain hospitalized and those displaced. We are actively working with county officials, housing authorities, and service organizations to ensure that our residents and staff members receive the care and support they need. All of us at ResidentialONE are grateful to the first responders, Montgomery County officials, housing authorities and members of the community for their continuing assistance to our residents impacted by yesterday’s events.
We are moved by the outpouring of support from the community including from those who have expressed a desire to help the affected residents and their families.”ResidentialONE
The American Red Cross was on the scene prepared to help residents. The county also has a relief fund set up to help residents, and it has already raised over $220,000. To donate, click here.