6 months after Mississauga explosion, 33 homes are still empty
Cause of blast that killed 2 still not released, city assisting displaced residents
Looking out the window of their rented Mississauga condo, Frank Mo and his partner, Irene Chow, can see the skeleton of their former home, severely damaged when the property behind them exploded June 28.
It's been six months since the blast on Hickory Drive destroyed one house and damaged dozens of others, and 33 homes remain empty, according to Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie.
All the bricks on the front and back of Mo's town-home complex have been removed, as well as the drywall inside, the flooring, the windows, the doors and even the kitchen counters. The roof and shingles also need to be replaced.
"Really, 90 per cent of the building will be completely redone," he said. "It will be down to the studs."
Two weeks after the explosion, Mo and Chow were permitted to enter the residence and grab some belongings.
They salvaged some smaller items, but their sofas, bedroom sets, televisions, barbecue and kitchen table were destroyed. Insurance will cover some of the costs, but not all of their belongings can be replaced.
Officials haven't released the cause of the explosion that rocked the neighbourhood near Dixie Road and Rathburn Road East that summer day.
The blast shook buildings, blew out windows and filled the sky with smoke.
The bodies of two people, later identified as Dianne Page and Robert Nadler, the owners of the home that exploded, were pulled from the rubble.
Neither the coroner nor police has released how the homeowners died or commented on whether they were alive at the time of the explosion.
CBC News confirmed Nadler had served time in prison in the 1980s after he was convicted of murder in his best friend's death.
Police also recovered notes found near the blast. Residents who read them say the writer describes being in pain, asks God for help and, according to at least two residents, requests forgiveness for future actions.
The notes were handed over to police, and it's not known whether they came from the house that exploded.
The extent of damage made collecting evidence difficult, but that process wrapped up on July 3.
Crombie said while officials continue to look into the cause, a "team of professionals from the City of Mississauga remains engaged with those families impacted."
Area Councillor Chris Fonseca has been hosting community meetings for families not yet back in their homes.
She got the city to agree to waive the storm water fee for affected residents and has asked the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. to list the homes as priorities for reassessment in the new year.
Still, some homeowners are facing both mortgage and rent payments, according to Fonseca, as some insurance coverage has run out.
Four homes were demolished, leaving their owners to go through a lengthy rebuilding process.
"Those families are so strong, they're so resilient," Fonseca said. "They've had support, obviously, from their own families and friends, but also the community has really pulled together."
Mo and Chow plan to move back into their home when it's fully repaired, which they've been told will likely be in September or October. Hopefully they can get in sooner, Mo says, because they'll also be stuck paying roughly $1,800 a month for rent once their insurance coverage runs out in the spring.
"We have no other choice," he said. "We have to bite the bullet."
Despite everything that's happened and the wait to get back home, Mo is still thankful to be safe.
"We're fine, we didn't get hurt, nothing happened to us," he said. "Property damage can be fixed, contents can be replaced, so we move on."