FRANKLIN, Va. (WAVY) — Residents of a Franklin apartment complex who’ve been without hot water and gas for weeks after a nearby duplex explosion have been offered free hotel rooms.
The explosion happened in the 700 block of Cameron Street around 10:45 p.m. on Friday, April 15, and left a man dead and a woman seriously hurt.
A propane leak is believed to have contributed to the explosion, so lines to the Berkley Court Apartments have been shut down in the meantime for the investigation.
On Wednesday, the City of Franklin announced that VCDC, a Virginia-based nonprofit that helped in the capital investment for renovations at the Berkley Court Apartments starting in 2015, is paying for hotel rooms, meals and transportation-related expenses for the residents who choose to temporarily relocate.
Some of the residents, such as disabled residents and those whose homes received minor damage in the blast, were already given the option to move to hotels a few days after the incident, the city says.
The city says residents also have the option to stay in their apartments and have their monthly rent waived until hot water is restored. A shower trailer that was installed will remain on the property.
“We know the residents need action to restore their community and to be able to have hot water and a hot
shower readily available,” said Robert Newman, President & CEO of VCDC, in a release. “While we have been
diligently working on plans to replace the current gas hot water heaters to electric powered hot water
tanks in each apartment to heat the water, the process became multilayered and complex. We have
simultaneously focused on additional short-term solutions in the interim.”
VCDC says it’s set to install electric water heaters to replace the gas-fueled heaters as a long-term solution, with the goal of starting installation as early as next week. They say the transition could be hampered by the regulation process in switching from gas to electric, but the city is ready to expedite any reviews, permits, etc.
“We are encouraged to learn about the advancement in solutions to the lack of hot water at Berkley
Court,” said Amanda Jarratt, Franklin City Manager. “We have been working closely with VCDC and the
community’s management company Severn Properties, to discuss both short-term and long-term
solutions. The city is committed to expedite anything that needs to happen and we are eagerly seeking the
same from state agencies.”