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Chelsea explosion leaves many New Yorkers undeterred 1 day later

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, speaking from Penn Station on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, says investigators have no reason to believe that there are further threats, but the public should "be on constant guard." The state has assigned 1,000 state troopers and the National Guard in the city. (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)

Residents of the Chelsea neighborhood where a bomb detonated Saturday night kept it in the back of their minds Sunday, saying they weren’t going to let the explosion alter their lives.

The street where a homemade bomb exploded in a construction trash container remained shut down from 5th Avenue to 8th Avenue as investigators sorted through debris littering the ground.

“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, and her two children, like other residents of 23rd Street, were escorted back into their home early Sunday afternoon.

“This is to be expected when you live in the big city in these times,” she said, calling the episode “a little crazy” but praising the quick emergency response.

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, a lawyer. “I’m like if it happens, it happens. We’ll all make it out, we always did in the past.”

Doucette spoke to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday as he and Gov. Andrew M. 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 23rd Street, said nothing seemed out of the ordinary inside the dark bar on Sunday.

“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. I don’t think people should be too afraid. It’s a very secure city. It’s very safe.”

The Juice Shop, a juice and smoothie bar on Sixth Avenue, offered a 10 percent discount to NYPD and FDNY members. Cindy Martinez, 19, handed 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 about Saturday’s explosion, Martinez said she isn’t worried enough to alter her life. “I think we do a pretty good job with safety. I don’t think there’s much to be afraid of,” she said.

But others weren’t so quick to dismiss the fear.

Alina Petrychenko, 21, said her parents, who live in 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 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 scene and said she felt the blast in her apartment, comparing it with 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. “We should stay united. It is difficult to avoid this.”

Bazona Bado

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