City officials and the American Red Cross this week were standing ready to provide what assistance they could to a neighborhood where a home exploded.

City officials and the American Red Cross this week were standing ready to provide what assistance they could to a neighborhood where a home exploded.

On Tuesday, three days after a March 21 explosion destroyed a home at 3418 Sunningdale Way and severely damaged several others in the neighborhood, officials in Upper Arlington and the American Red Cross of Central Ohio were trying to spread the word on to how to pick up the pieces.

The city issued a press release Monday, March 23, stating that all those affected by the suspected natural gas explosion -- regardless of the extent of the damage to their homes -- should call the Upper Arlington Building Division at 614-583-5070.

The city also advised homeowners to contact their insurance companies and to request inspections of natural gas lines, electrical infrastructure and chimneys by Ohio-licensed professionals.

John Romans, vice president of Hilliard-based Romans Construction, said an engineer should inspect all damaged houses.

"These homes are within a blast zone and most likely, the owners are going to have to disclose that when they sell," Romans said. "If they try to sell their homes and they don't disclose it ... even if the damage is minimal, it could be a problem."

Romans said his company boarded up broken windows at three homes in the neighborhood just west of Tremont Road near the central section of Upper Arlington. He also inspected seven homes and said he observed drywall cracking in each of them, as well as cracking in door jambs and nails that had popped out of place.

While those issues can be fixed, he said, an engineer's inspection would address disclosure issues and could help ensure homeowners won't be required to pay their deductibles if a utility company or another entity is found at fault for the explosion.

"The way this blast hit, the roofs took a lot of the force," Romans said. "When the roofs took the impact, it kind of moved the houses around."

According to city officials and neighborhood residents, the owners of the home that exploded were out of town when the blast occurred.

This week, the Upper Arlington Community Affairs Division released a statement saying "a number of residents in the community (were) interested in helping the affected families in some way."

The city also was working with the Red Cross to get shelter or other assistance to those who needed it.

"We've reached out to multiple agencies within the city of Upper Arlington," Norm Hoffman, the American Red Cross of Central Ohio's disaster program manager for Franklin County, said Tuesday, March 24. "We have not had any identified needs of anyone up there.

"The recovery is going to take some time," he said. "We're here as a safety net."

Anyone in need of assistance was advised to contact Hoffman at (614) 253-2740, ext. 2243, or via email at norm.hoffman@redcross.org.

In the meantime, the Upper Arlington Public Services Department this week was inspecting stormwater and sanitary lines in the neighborhood, and the city had arranged for Republic Services to collect debris from the explosion at no cost to residents.

"Homeowners with damage to their homes are advised to not touch any of the debris until their insurance company has undertaken an assessment of the damage and given them the go ahead to begin cleanup," a city press release stated.

"There have been reports that some salvageable personal items from the home have been found by neighbors. The city asks that all such items be brought to our police division offices, at 3600 Tremont Road."

Additionally, Columbia Gas provided a hotline number to assist anyone displaced by the incident at 800-590-5571, and had made arrangements with the Red Cross to provide counseling support for those who were impacted.

The city also was providing additional information, gas safety tips and recommendations for the property owners at uaoh.net under the "Headlines" section.