First new home being built in Richmond Hill after deadly blast


In the dead of winter, in a south side Indianapolis neighborhood devastated by tragedy and hardship, there is a lot of good noise. 

Over the din of power nailers and an electric saw, Brett Cocherell said with a smile, "We were the first down and the first to come back."

The Cocherell family's new home inside the Richmond Hill subdivision is being built right on the foundation of the old one.

Two months ago, wrecking crews tore it down as the couple watched and wept.

They lived three doors from the explosion and two doors from the couple that died.

Cocherell pointed to the floor joists above. 

"Right above here," he said. "That's where my wife and ten year old son were, yeah."

He says being back doesn't feel eerie or scary. 

"It is home. It is where we want to go back to," he said with a serious tone.

Other families are coming back as well.  The city has issued 25 building permits to repair homes, some so badly damaged they were uninhabitable. 

A block away, the Beard family hopes to move home next week. The force of the blast moved the garage walls, knocked bricks lose, and cracked the interior walls. After months of fear and frustration and watching more than 30 homes being torn down, Eric Beard says he finally is starting to feel good inside again.

"There were days we didn't want to drive in and come through," he said.

Some streets have nearly as many empty lots as standing homes. Some families aren't coming back. Their property is for sale.

Brett Cocherell says his wife and children they never even thought of living anywhere else. 

"We know this neighborhood is going to come back. It is going to be the same neighborhood," he said with conviction. "The tragedy is not going to go away.  However, the people that made it welcoming and warm, they are still going to be here."

Dozens of homeowners are still dealing with insurance companies and their personal emotions, trying to decide whether to rebuild or move on and put a painful part of their lives behind them.