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Prayers, Canned Goods And ‘The Sounds That I Miss’: Adjusting To Life In Merrimack Valley

A person gathers essential belongings at House of Mercy. Photo by Quincy Walters for WBUR

A person gathers essential belongings at House of Mercy. Photo by Quincy Walters for WBUR

Since last Thursday, the House of Mercy has been busier than usual. The part shelter/part church/part donations center is among the places people affected by the Merrimack Valley gas explosions can go for help.

Their building, in an industrial corner of Lawrence, is a cramped space nearly floor-to-ceiling with diapers, bottled water and canned food.

Mabel Valenzuela, who works at House of Mercy, walks through a tight hallway, surveying the inventory.

“This chaos that you see here — we’ve been getting a lot of donations from the community,” Valenzuela says. “So what we’re doing is dividing kids’ clothes, men’s clothes, so when families come in, we’re able to assist them better.”

She says “it’s hard to tell” how long they’ll be helping people affected by the gas explosions that damaged or destroyed homes, killed one person, and injured dozens.

“I don’t even think the city [of Lawrence] has an answer to that,” Valenzuela says. “So we are going to help people as long as they need to be helped.”

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