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Gas leak evacuees gather in JACC

Sarah Mervosh | Friday, October 8, 2010


Around 500 people gathered in the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center for shelter and assistance after a major gas leak caused the evacuation of many buildings in downtown South Bend Thursday.
Thousands evacuated the downtown area, but no one was injured, according to the South Bend Tribune. 
The University made the fieldhouse side of the Joyce Center available to workers and residents who were displaced, University spokesman Dennis Brown said.
Brown said 1st Source Bank, which has offices downtown, called the University and asked if their employees could come to Notre Dame’s campus.
“[They said,] ‘We don’t want them hanging out on the streets, can we bring them up to the Joyce Center?’ We said, ‘Yes, by all means,'” Brown said. 
Transpo began transporting evacuees to the Joyce Center, where food, water, coffee, juice, Internet access and blankets for the elderly were provided. 
“Anyone who wanted to jump on a bus could come up to the Joyce Center and have a place to wait it out,” Brown said.
Evacuees arrived at the Joyce Center around 9:30 or 10 a.m. and were “coming and going” for the next four hours, peaking around lunchtime, he said. 
Brown said evacuees needed a place to wait because they did not know when the leak would be capped and could not go home because much of the city was blocked off.
“Wherever their cars may be parked, they couldn’t get to them,” he said.  
In addition to the evacuation of businesses and restaurants, low-income housing and assisted living complexes were also affected. Many of these evacuees needed medical or wheelchair assistance, Brown said. 
“We were really concerned about those folks in particular,” he said. 
Various Notre Dame departments, such as Notre Dame Security Police and the Office of Information Technology, worked with downtown businesses and the American Red Cross to assist evacuees. 
“It is a great example of collaboration between the broader community,” Brown said. 
The leak, which occurred in the 100 block of West Jefferson Boulevard, was capped shortly after noon, the South Bend Tribune reported. 
Brown said the Joyce Center cleared out by around 2 p.m.