Richmond Hill transitions from response to recovery

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Smock Golf Course on County Line Road, just south of the devastated Richmond Hill subdivision off Sherman Drive and Stop 11, has become the joint operations center for what has moved from response to recovery.  

It's also where those other than homeowners, the insurance agents and contractors, must get credentials before they are allowed to enter the subdivision that was rocked by Saturday night's explosion and fire. 

It's also a place where homeowners are able to get information about counseling. The struggle for homeowners at this point is trying to live their lives with as much normalcy as possible, while many still aren't allowed in their homes.

Answers are coming slowly in this investigation as those working it take great care to find the right answers.

Eventually the answers will come and all of the windows will be replaced, the garage doors repaired, and the siding put back on the homes.

But first, 29 of those homes will have to be torn down. The lasting scars will be the memory.

You may remember Michael Kouner from Saturday night, just an hour after the explosion. He and his father had found their way to Mary Bryan Elementary school, after Michael had pulled a woman from her burning house, saving her life.

"I'm doing alright," Michael said Tuesday. "I just keep seeing the image over and over of the house just gone - just the girl standing there in her house with her face covered in blood...screaming." 

Moving forward for many of those close to the explosion is more than replacing their home. It will involve learning to deal with what happened. 

Investigators don't want to put a time frame on how long it will take to complete their work - whether it ranges from weeks to months. Another briefing is expected later this morning.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which spent a day at the explosion site, determined the blast was not caused by the main gas line. So now the focus, according to state and local investigators, is on the home itself and the appliances inside.

Citizens Energy Group maintains they have found nothing out of the ordinary with regard to usage at homes under investigation. Nevertheless, the belief is that natural gas was involved.

Only four days in, this case is still very new and the city's new public safety director cautions there is still much work to be done. "We will continue to question homeowners, look at scientific data, analyzing," said Troy Riggs. "It's all part of the investigation."

It's a painstaking process, sifting and sorting through so much damage. We talked with an accident investigator from Purdue University about what they may be looking for.

"The circuitry on some equipment gives fault codes," according to Dr. Stewart Schreckengast. If found intact, he said, the codes may provide what was not correct.