Family Struggles Months After Gaithersburg Explosion

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A family who lost their home when a condo building in Gaithersburg, Maryland, exploded last November has finally found a permanent place to live.

Marc St-Jour said he still remembers racing home from work to check on his family the day their building at the Potomac Oaks condominiums was destroyed.

"From what I saw, I was like there’s no possible way my family could be alive right now. So, I’m freaking out in my mind," St-Jour said.

Thankfully, his wife and baby daughter survived.

Ten people were hurt in the explosion, which was the act of a man who died by suicide, Montgomery County police said.

St-Jour's family and dozens of others were left with nothing.

"Oh my goodness, I just was so stressed out," St-Jour said.

He said Montgomery County initially did little to help, and refused to let them stay at a hotel that was designated for survivors of the explosion.

"They just said, 'No.' There was no real reason behind it. It was like, 'We’re not responsible for housing, you guys.' Simple as that," he said.

His family has stayed at a hotel in Rockville for several months while searching for an apartment they could afford.

To make matters worse, they still have had to pay the mortgage and HOA fees on their condo, although it no longer exists.

"You’re still processing that you just almost lost your family," St-Jour said.

Community advocate Tiffany Kelly lives nearby and helped the St-Jours and other families affected by the explosion press for answers.

"Me, being a descendant of poverty and knowing how to navigate multiple systems, I have an expertise that is hard to come by," Kelly said.

"Going through this crisis, I met some really nice people, and I realized there are some really good people out there," St-Jour said.

With the help of Kelly and others, the St-Jour family was able to move into an apartment this week.

"Man, laying on your own bed and not living out of a suitcase — nothing like it," St-Jour said.

St-Jour said Montgomery County helped with the costs, and the community has donated to them.

Montgomery County’s Department of Health and Human Services said its staff has worked with every affected family and will continue to do so. The department said families have gotten a case manager, cash and rent assistance, and other resources, as needed.

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