Steam pipe explosion: Residents start returning home; area still largely closed to traffic

FLATIRON DISTRICT, Manhattan — Residents are slowly returning home after a steam pipe exploded last week in the Flatiron District, displacing hundreds, but dozens of buildings remained closed Monday as crews continued to clear the area of asbestos.

Five buildings have been cleared, the city stated on its official website Monday morning. Those buildings are 7 East 20 St., 11 West 19 St., 17 West 19 St., 10 West 20 St. and 16 West 20 St. Click here for a full up-to-date list of buildings that are still affected.

A community meeting for those affected by the incident will be held Monday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for building owners and businesses, and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. for tenants.

The meeting will be held at The Clinton School at 10 E. 15th St., where those affected by the blast also can connect with crews for escorts into contaminated buildings. These escorts will be conducted only for life-sustaining or emergency issues from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

Crews worked over the weekend to clear the area of asbestos before storms dumped heavy rain Saturday night. Continued rainfall is expected for the next several days. Those crews have been collecting the water and filtering it before releasing it into catch basins, the Associated Press reports.

The work was part of a decontamination effort after the Con Edison pipe ruptured Thursday morning at West 21st Street and Fifth Avenue.

Nearly 50 buildings were assessed and decontaminated after the explosion, which blew a large hole in the street along Fifth Avenue. The decontamination efforts left about 500 individuals displaced from 249 residential units.

Anyone who was in the immediate area of the explosion was told to shower, bag their clothing with debris on it and hand it over to Con Ed.

Anyone who had to turn over personal items or could not return home can now file a claim with Con Ed for reimbursement by clicking here.

Streets in the area were closed after the blast. As of Monday morning, Fifth Avenue remained closed to all pedestrian and vehicular traffic between 20th and 21st streets, with the exception of MTA buses.

Although buses can drive through the area, the buses are not stopping between 18th and 23rd streets along Fifth Avenue.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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