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Picking Up The Pieces In Paterson: Crews Recover Valuables From The Rubble

PATERSON, N.J. -- Residents of Goshen Street are literately picking up the pieces after an explosion destroyed three homes and displaced a dozen families.

As crews work to clean up the mess, they have managed to recover a few treasures from the rubble, CBS2's Tony Aiello reports.

One of the displaced residents, Adnan Saka, said he is counting his blessings. His landlord woke him up and he left the building with no time to spare.

"I get out of the house, that happened." he said.

Three days later, the relief of surviving is real, but so is the dismay over the scope of the destruction.

"My god, I couldn't sleep. Every hour I wake up, every time I think of something in the house I wake up and just sit down, real nervous," another displaced resident Laurice Kalyoussef said.

Kalyoussef owned a house next door to the one that exploded. Her home was so heavily damaged, it had to be demolished.

She begged the crews removing the rubble to be on the lookout for anything of value, especially her jewelry box and purse with several thousand dollars in cash.

The demolition contractors, Bill Vecharello, sympathized.

"I said when we started, 'I lost my mom in November and she's watching over us,' I said, 'we're going to find it,' and we did," he said.

Vecharello operates his excavator with the skills of a surgeon, carefully combing through the rubble. His ground crew spots and grabs anything of value, including Kalyoussef's jewelry box and cash.

"I'm really thankful for everything everyone is doing for me," she said.

Some of what they recovered had more sentimental value than monetary value, such as a ceramic serving bowl that somehow survived a house collapsing around it.

And some of what they found was priceless, like Kalyoussef's wedding album.

"A little relief from everything that's happening to me," she said.

Her husband died two years ago.

Investigators from PSE&G spent several hours on the scene Friday, but say they are still trying to determine the cause of the apparent natural gas explosion.

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