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'We're survivors': Richmond Hill neighbors 10 years later

Richmond Hill Neighborhood
Posted at 7:47 AM, Nov 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-11 07:47:45-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Ten years have passed since an explosion rocked the Richmond Hill subdivision.

Vicky Koerner's home was one of 33 destroyed by the blast that November evening.

“Everybody has a story of where they were that night. Whether it was New Palestine or across the street,” Koerner said. “10 years. It seems like a lifetime ago."

Koerner has called the neighborhood home since 2001 and she has no plans on leaving any time soon.

“We’ve actually built three houses in this neighborhood over the course of 20, 21 years,” Koerner said.

She first rebuilt. Then, seven years ago, Koerner bought the plot of land and built a new home right next store to where everything happened.

“We’re survivors. We’re survivors,” Koerner said.

Libby Cruz moved into the neighborhood 10 months after the explosion. Her newly bought home came with extensive damage.

“Some people moved out, some people stayed here trying to rebuild their lives here, but they’re still hurting,” said Cruz, who for the last six years has served as the neighborhood’s HOA president.

RELATED | Remembering the Richmond Hill explosion 10 years later

“The people that were in here during that time — they know what each other is feeling. I wasn’t in here during that time, but I can sympathize with them. And I can see their pain,” Cruz said, recalling how even neighbors who moved away stay connected through social media.

Ten years later, the site of the explosion is vacant. Two other plots nearby are too. On the 10-year mark, Cruz mentioned that many were posting their own accounts of what happened that day.

WRTV reporter Nikki DeMentri asked Cruz: “What runs through your head just looking at it [the plot where the explosion happened]?”

Cruz said through tears: “Just knowing that we lost our neighbors. We lost two people that should be alive.”

The mother of four added she and other neighbors try to continue the legacy of those who died.

“As the explosion shows us, possessions don’t matter. The things that matter are the people, the ones that lost their lives, the ones that are hurting now,” Cruz said.

The hope from both Cruz and Koerner is for the three empty plots of land to soon have houses built on them.

Things have changed in the last decade. Neighbors have moved out, while others have moved in — but at its core, Richmond Hill neighbors are still there for each other.