When the smell of gas scares you

Today as I turned on my stove this morning to make my breakfast I became shaken and I took an audible gasp .


John Minchillo/AP Photo

As many of you heard, yesterday morning a building exploded in East Harlem- killing 7 and injuring many.

Thank you to all that were concerned about my safety- at the time I was between work and home- both about 15 blocks away from the site to the west and north respectfully.

But just because I wasn’t in close proximity doesn’t mean the event did not affect my community. You could see the smoke, you could hear the emergency personnel. The hospital the injured were transferred to is on my street. At the gym this morning I overheard some speaking about being in the area and feeling the quake. And those people that passed were fellow Harlemites. It is all so sad and scary.

So this morning when I turned on my gas stovetop, I had a churning in my stomach. The cause of the explosion was a gas leak. How exactly the leak occurred and what exactly prompted the explosion we still don’t know. But it’s something I am all too familiar with.

At my old apartment, the smell of gas was a regular. Sometimes so strong that I would have to cover my nose and mouth going up the stairs to my apartment or I’d get a headache just sitting in my room.

My old landlord, who was the most absentminded man alive, would be completely ignorant to the issue. Our super, who was wanted a criminal in multiple states said that while “filling the boiler” some “spilled”. For days it would smell of gas. When you called 311, the city’s resource to which you are directed to file housing complaints, you would push multiple numbers before getting to the one you needed, then when issuing a complaint you never knew if and when your issue would be resolved.

And now a building has exploded.

Supposedly someone called ConEd, our energy provider, and complained of the smell of gas at 9:13AM. Supposedly ConEd dispatched someone to inspect at 9:15AM. At 9:30AM a building exploded.

Based on my own experience I have to ask the question, how long do you think that person was on hold?

And now  lives are gone, families are shattered, and a community is shaken.

I hope this serves as an awakening for the city, for the government, and for all landlords.

Seeing what I saw yesterday, knowing what I know now, if I smelled gas like I used to in my old apartment- I would reacts differently. I would get out.

I’m so grateful that I now live in a building owned by a company who is protective of their property, fast responding, and professional.

And I mourn for the people affected yesterday- who’s deaths and injuries can’t be blamed on anything else but a huge city without enough regulations and oversight.

It’s a scary and often frustrating world. But I’m very lucky to still be in it.


6 thoughts on “When the smell of gas scares you

  1. Another question to ask is how many people smelled the gas and never made the call to 311. That gas had to be leaking for some time. Someone smelled it before yesterday morning at 9:13 am. If you smell a strong gas smell. Make a call.

  2. NYC’s tenant laws are seriously lacking. Slum landlords are too much of a regular. housing inequalities has always been an issue, but tighter tenant laws are really needed now that not as many are buying. so sad, be safe!

  3. Lauren, I am so glad you are safe. When the news was shown in the morning, they said “NYC.” On the evening news, they said “East Harlem.” My heart lurched when I heard the word “Harlem” not knowing if you were East or West. I also thought you should be at work. It was on NBC news tonight how so many of the old cities have outdated gas lines including Washington DC. When complaints are made, they seem to turn a deaf ear because they know it is expensive to replace. We had a similar thing happen near San Fran a couple years ago, in San Bruno, on the peninsula. If I remember right, PG&E got their act together and did a lot of repair work after being sued. I guess that’s what it takes. Love, GM P.S. Wonderful writing!

  4. Pingback: Annnnnd it’s Friday | From the Fifth Floor

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