Less than a day after an explosion rocked Chelsea, residents and business owners largely went about their normal Sunday activities while police and emergency personnel swarmed the typically busy stretch of West 23rd Street.
And while the violent events from Saturday evening weren’t far from anyone’s mind, many simply refused to be affected by them.
The street remained shut from 5th Avenue to 8th Avenue as investigators sorted through the debris littering the ground. All 29 people who were injured had been treated and released from hospitals by Sunday. There were no fatalities.
A second bomb that had not been detonated was discovered nearby on 27th Street and disarmed.
“It’s very eerie to see 23rd street blocked,” said Grant Anderson, 55, who lives two blocks from the blast. “If you really think about it, it’s really scary. As a New Yorker, you put up a wall to block that.”
Gina De Mendonca, 36, was waiting with her to kids to go back to their home on 23rd Street. Residents allowed back at about 12:40 p.m.
“It’s a little crazy,” she said, adding the quick response from emergency personnel was reassuring. “This is to be expected when you live in the big city in these times."
Tyschelle Doucette, 40, lives in Jamaica, Queens, but attends church in Chelsea. On Sunday, she wouldn’t let an explosion deter her.
“I’m not scared. I was here for 9/11,” said Doucette, who works as a lawyer. “I’m like, ‘If it happens, it happens.’ We’ll all make it out, we always did in the past.”
Doucette even spoke to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday as he and Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited a Starbucks on Seventh Avenue. He assured her there was nothing to fear.
Brenden O’Reilly, a bartender at Jake’s Saloon on West 23rd Street, said nothing seemed out of the ordinary inside the dark bar.
“Today for business has been much the same as it normally is,” said O’Reilly, 32, who lives in Sunnyside, Queens. “It’s awful, it’s horrifying. You just need to be more alert and conscious of your surroundings. I don’t think people should be too afraid. It’s a very secure city, it’s very safe.”
The Juice Shop, a chain of juice and smoothie bars, gives a 10% discount to NYPD and FDNY members. Cindy Martinez, 19, was handing out samples to workers in the area.
“I don’t know how to feel about it. I don’t know whether to be paranoid,” said Martinez, who lives in the Port Morris area of the Bronx. While she’s a little unsettled, Martinez said she isn’t worried enough to think twice about living her life. “I think we do a pretty good job with safety, I don’t think there’s much to be afraid of.”
While several blocks from the explosion looked like business as usual in Chelsea, not everything was as smooth as it appeared.
One man at a Sixth Avenue restaurant said business was about 50% slower than is typical for Sunday brunch. And a tea shop, usually open on Sundays, remained dark.
Alina Petrychenko, 21, wasn’t as quick to write off the fear. Her parents, who live in the Ukraine, were calling her all night.
“It’s scary, it can happen everywhere all around the world,” said Petrychenko, who works as a server at Bite, a Middle Eastern restaurant on West 22nd Street. “I wish I could say it was a gas leak or something. I wish.”
Esti Aquino lives a few blocks from the explosion in Chelsea and said she felt the blast in her apartment, comparing it to an earthquake that shook the floor.
“I feel terrible it happens in New York,” she said, adding while she’s “absolutely scared,” she can’t let it change her daily life.
“We should not let this intimidate us,” she said.
- With Bazona Bado