PORTLAND, Ore. – On the two-week anniversary of the explosion on Northwest 23rd in Portland, business owners affected by the blast met with Mayor Charlie Hales, city representatives, NW Natural and Loy Clark Pipeline representatives Wednesday.
The business owners talked about their challenges, including some who are still unable to reopen. They also confronted Loy Clark Pipeline, the company responsible for hitting the gas line.
“We appreciate the opportunity to hear from the business owners, to learn more about what they are dealing with, and we are certainly looking at what we can do to help them through the recovery process,” said Andrea Fonkert, a spokesman for Loy Clark Pipeline.
Fonkert said the explosion is still under investigation, which was upsetting to business owners. They want an apology from Loy Clark, and they want help from the city to move forward.
Parking is limited in the area and some people have to walk on the street, said some business owners. They feel the city has left them in the dark.
At the meeting, Mayor Charlie Hales admitted the city could have done a better job helping people right away.
“I’m happy about much of what the city has done, but like I said here, I’d give us mixed reviews as a city organization, in that we did a great job in the first few days. And then we've been a little slower to respond to the building need. And that’s why we're moving faster now,” Hales said.
Hales announced that Jonna Papaefthimiou of the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management will lead the city's coordinated response and recovery efforts as the newly appointed Northwest 23rd Recovery Manager.
She will work to gather information from businesses and create a website where they can get information. Businesses can also email questions to recoverNW23@portlandoregon.gov and use #recoverNW23 to follow updates.
Some residents also attended Wednesday's meeting and the city said it would like to hold a meeting with residents in the future.