Demolition begins in Richmond Hill neighborhood

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Crews tore down three homes in the Richmond Hill subdivision Tuesday as homeowners stood by and watched.

The homes were damaged in the Nov. 10th explosion that killed Dion and Jennifer Longworth.City building inspectors have ordered the demolition of 29 houses in the subdivision, six of which must come down this week. Four other homes will also be torn down once the arson investigation is complete.

As three homes fell, the tears were too numerous to count.

It was a torturous after noon for Abby Jackson, but she couldn't look away from the home her family loved every bit of.

"I had to watch even though this is hard. It is. Part ot me said not to come But this is for closure for my heart my mind my soul. I had to see see it be done," she said.

Down the block, Brett and Nikki Cocherell watched as well, holding on to each other as their home was torn apart. They took pictures and a few souvenir bricks, trying to save some memories from the demolition crew and dumpsters.

Neighbors Andrea and Brian Cox were relieved to see their badly damaged home coming down.

"It's what we wanted," Andrea said, for the safety of their family. The Coxes plan to rebuild.

Neighbors admit the demolitions are a difficult but an important and necessary step for a community trying to pull itself together and recover. Some of the Aldridge's best friends are now homeless.

"It's going to be painful for a lot of peope who live in here. This is where we gotta start," said Doug Aldridge.

"It's sad to see houses go down, but it is part of the rebuilding process. It's part of getting the neighborhood back to where it was. Getting the houses back up. Getting it to where the kids can come through on the school bus and not have to see all this," said resident Mike Phillips.

Phillips says in that respect, he's glad to see progress towards rebuilding.

"It couldn't come soon enough. It's every day, the helicopters overhead, you know what time it is. It's thrown our lives upside down," he said.

As her home splintered into bricks and sticks, Abby Jackson relived the night of the explosion and how she, her husband and four children ran for their lives.

"This is a home," said Jackson. "It will be gone, but the visions of that night just haunt me over and over again and what my kids had to see that night. That won't go away for a long time."

The demolitions will take another month to complete. Rebuilding homes may take a year, but healing lives will take much longer.

Total damage has been estimated at $4.4 million.