How to help those affected by the deadly downtown Durham explosion

Explosion destroys Durham building killing at least 1, injuring many others

Search-and-rescue teams are sifting through the rubble after an explosion Wednesday morning in downtown Durham left one person dead and 17 people injured.
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Search-and-rescue teams are sifting through the rubble after an explosion Wednesday morning in downtown Durham left one person dead and 17 people injured.

Online campaigns are raising money in the aftermath of the downtown Durham explosion that left 1 person dead and 25 injured.

A GoFundMe page says it will benefit Kaffeinate, a coffee shop in the building that was destroyed in the blast Wednesday morning. Kong Lee, 61, owned the business and died in the explosion, according to Durham officials.

Another GoFundMe called “Lee Family Support” had raised almost $15,000 as of Thursday afternoon. The organizer, Callie Brauel, wrote that she previously worked with Lee’s daughter, Diana.

“This money will be used for living expenses like paying the mortgage of Kong’s house, caring for Kong’s mom, funeral expenses, and will give them time to figure out another source of income for their family until they can rebuild their coffee shop,” Brauel wrote on the fundraising page.

And another GoFundMe for the Lee family has been organized by the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and Kappa Epsilon, according to the site, on Diana Lee’s behalf. Lee is a pharmacy student, the page says. More than $18,000 had been raised as of Saturday morning.

“Donations will be delivered directly to Diana Lee to financially support the funeral proceedings as well as rebuilding and other necessary expenses,” the GoFundMe organizers wrote. A website was built with links to all three fundraisers supporting the Lee family, as well as a message board for condolences. 

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Another GoFundMe campaign says it’s raising money for restaurant employees.

“Many restaurant workers, who depend on their shops being open, are without income for the foreseeable future,” the campaign says. “With your help, we can lessen their burden just as (sic) bit as many are just beginning what is sure to be an arduous journey.”

A GoFundMe campaign called Bull City Rebuilds raised more than $20,000 as of Friday morning, and organizer Rebekah Miel says money will go toward helping affected people and businesses. The fundraising site also says that so far, Motorco, Global Breath Studio, Bull City Designs and Zen Fish Poke Bar have supported the campaign.

Firefighters attempt to put out a fire caused by an explosion and collapse near Brightleaf Square area of Durham on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. One person is dead and 15 have been taken to the hospital.

An update added Thursday afternoon said they are “still being mindful of giving victims space, but are reaching out to the helpers. However, an immediate need was to feed the first responders on the scene. A Bull City Rebuilds team member made a run to Costco for energy bars, chips, and other quick protein snacks to supplement the food being made at Mavericks.”

Dominion Energy is operating a Claims Operations Center at Maverick’s Smokehouse and Taproom on West Main Street, where it will offer affected residents help with food and housing, the company said in a news release. People who live and work in the area can also call Dominion Energy’s help line at 877-592-7762.

Discover Durham, formerly the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau, is also listing fundraisers on its site.


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