BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After a gas explosion claimed two lives and damaged dozens of houses in a Northwest Baltimore neighborhood, help has been steadily coming to those affected.

Empowerment Temple Pastor GJ Barnes told WJZ the church paid $15,000 for the funerals of 61-year-old Lonnie Harriet and 20-year-old Joseph Graham.

More than $20,000 in additional funds has been donated to the residents who have needed help along the way.

“I personally have been in contact with these families and their needs are now,” said Junetta Barnes with the First Lady of Empowerment Temple, adding there are still needs to be met.

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The church is less than two miles from the blast site and they felt they needed to be a part of the recovery process.

“We have staff members here who on that Monday when the explosion happened who felt it,” Barnes said.

A public-private coalition was announced, made up of 10 to 12 organizations like the American Red Cross, United Way and Baltimore City Office of Emergency Management, who plan to continue raising money and want to put it to good use.

Food assistance, displacement help, housing assistance and counseling services are still in the works. Barnes said they want to see the area get back to the way it was as much as it can; “there are residents who have insurance but may not be able to provide the funds for the deductible which deters them from filing a claim, so we want to help with that.”

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Rachael Cardin

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