Youngstown church waits for repairs after house explosion

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Eight months after a house explosion on the South Side of Youngstown, a church still can’t hold worship services.

Last summer,a Choice Homes house on Cohasset Drive exploded, damaging houses around it. Some of the windows at Greater Mount Calvary Baptist Church also were blown out.

From the outside, the church looks vacant and inside, the ceiling is falling down. Rev. Mary Austin, the church’s pastor, said raccoons have made their way into the church.

She doesn’t hold services anymore, but prays there every Sunday. Each time, she finds more damage.

The church and almost two dozens homes on Cohasset Avenue in Youngstown were damaged when the house exploded in July. It was demolished and turned over to insurance.

Austin said the church lost its insurance before the explosion and claims responsibility for the damages still is not clear.

“We haven’t done anything and I don’t think we deserve to be treated like this because this is the Lord’s house. This is not my house. This is God’s house,” Austin said.

She said Choice Homes told her they are in line to be interviewed by the insurance company. But Choice Homes said it’s not involved in any of the insurance transactions.

“I basically told them the same thing. I probably told 20 other people, contact your insurance company and they’ll handle it from there,” said Phillip Smith of Choice Homes.

“We have yet to have anybody contact us and I think that’s unfair. I don’t think we are asking for too much,” Austin said.

She said if her church exploded, she would be held accountable and just wants the same treatment.

“We have no say on what happens with the insurance claims. We don’t even know,” Phillips said.

We called the company, but the agent was out of the office.

In the meantime, the reverend isn’t giving up and has faith something will happen.

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