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Group home joins Danversport residents rebuilding lives

Lauding work on Triangle's group home were (from left) Town Manager Wayne Marquis, resident Gerard Torre, agency CEO Mike Rodrigues and state Representative Theodore Speliotis. Lauding work on Triangle's group home were (from left) Town Manager Wayne Marquis, resident Gerard Torre, agency CEO Mike Rodrigues and state Representative Theodore Speliotis. (DAVID KAMERMAN/GLOBE STAFF)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Kathy McCabe
Globe Staff / July 15, 2007

DANVERS -- Peter Muthua fell asleep on the living-room couch during his overnight job supervising four developmentally disabled men at a group home on Bates Street.

He woke up to windows shattering, ceilings falling, and walls caving in. A giant ball of fire filled the dark night outside. His instinct? Get the sleeping men safely out of the house.

"I went to each of their rooms," said Muthua, 24, a native of Kenya. "I had to kick one door in, but I got them out."

The home, owned by Triangle Inc. of Malden, is one of about 70 homes in Danversport that were damaged or destroyed when an ink-and-paint factory exploded on Nov. 22, the morning before Thanksgiving. Since then, the blue clapboard home has been boarded up with plywood.

But now it is time to rebuild. A $150,000 reconstruction job is underway. New walls, ceilings, and windows will go in. If all goes as planned, the four former residents should be able to move back by fall. "We're looking forward to making this a home again," said Mike Rodrigues , Triangle's chief executive.

Triangle is the latest property owner to rebuild in Danversport. Of 70 homes damaged, 30 still are unoccupied. Most are in various stages of repair or construction. Some have yet to settle claims with insurance companies.

"Every family that moves back in is a triumph," Town Manager Wayne P. Marquis said at a ceremonial groundbreaking last week.

Triangle, a nonprofit organization, provides housing, employment, and other services to people with disabilities. It operates 10 group homes in Danvers, Beverly, Malden and Reading, housing 54 disabled adults. Triangle bought the home at 2 Bates St., just off Water Street, in 2000. Insurance is covering 90 percent of the reconstruction costs, Rodrigues said.

Triangle is seeking donations of new furniture, artwork, pictures, plants, and other touches of home for the house. The organization also needs donations of clothing for the men, who are in their 40s and 50s. Personal items, like toiletries, are also needed. The four men have been living either with family or in apartments rented by Triangle since the blast, Rodrigues said.

In Triangle's group homes, residents typically leave the house for work each day at about 7:30 a.m. They get home about 6:30 p.m. Staff is on duty to provide services, including cooking and cleaning. "We have a very caring staff," Rodrigues said, standing inside the gutted structure in Danversport. "What Peter did that night is proof of that."

Gerard Torre , 45, was asleep in his second-floor bedroom. He was so frightened by the explosion, he couldn't walk. Muthua put him on his back, carrying him to safety. "I was crying," Torre said last week, standing in the shell of his old bedroom. "He helped me."

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com.

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