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Flatiron Community Vents Frustration As Cleanup Continues From Steam Pipe Blast

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A pair of tense meetings took place Monday night, four days after a steam pipe exploded in Manhattan's Flatiron District. City and Con Edison officials spent hours answering questions from people whose homes and businesses were impacted by the blast.

About half of the roughly 45 affected buildings near the site of last week's blast have now been declared safe, allowing businesses to reopen and residents to return home, with 12 more expected to be cleared on Tuesday. For residents who live the 12 buildings which officials say have interior asbestos contamination, the excruciating wait its expected to linger on.

"It's very unsettling," said David Base, one of those affected when the blast near 21st Street and Fifth Avenue sent asbestos-filled steam and pieces of the pipe flying.

"We really have no indication how long will be before we can fully return and actually live in our homes again," he said.

Crews have been spraying the facades of buildings to wash off any asbestos. Elizabeth Reid lives close to the accident site. Her building was not closed down but she has not returned to her apartment anyway.

"I'm not sure how safe things are," she said. "I don't safe living there right now?"

Photos: Massive Steam Pipe Explosion In Manhattan's Flatiron District

One retail manager says her store has lost at least $50,000 in revenue since the blast.

"My people, they all want to come back to work and live life normal again," Danielle Storno said.

Con Edison is compensating displaced households $500, and noting those who do not feel that amount is enough can file a claim for "other related expenses."

The Office of Emergency Management will says NYPD will be offering to help residents of the closed buildings who may have left critical items in their apartment such as necessary medication. The city is also providing live updates as buildings are cleared for reoccupation through information on the city's website.

In addition to local residents, traffic on the street saw bus service back Monday along Fifth Avenue near the blast site. As for the 12 buildings which were contaminated, there was no concrete time frame for when cleanup will be complete.

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