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Apex Residents, Businesses Glad To Be Back Despite Losses

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APEX. N.C. — After two days of being shut out, over 17.000 Apex residents found their way home Saturday after the evacuation order was lifted early that morning.

"It's just good to be home, you know?" said Apex resident Jane Sekoulic.

Many hadn't been back in the area since a series of explosions erupted at the EQ chemical plant late Thursday night. Just minutes after the evacuation order was lifted, many families poured back into their neighborhoods.

"We just treated it like we were camping, and the only person stressed out was our dog," said Apex resident Tim Carley A few roadblocks remained late Saturday near the still-smoldering rubble of the EQ Industrial Services plant, but the burning smell and potentially toxic clouds of fumes were gone.

Wake County environmental services officials advised residents to replace air conditioner filters, wipe off children's toys and kitchen counters, and wash clothes and bedding.

"I already bought new air filters," said Marcia Murto, returning from a trip to the grocery store. She and her family camped out at her office in nearby Morrisville after the fire erupted Thursday night and slept in a hotel Friday night. "We're back home and it seems to be OK," she said.

But the stress level for some business owners is still high. Several blocks around the plant are closed indefinitely, affecting some industrial businesses.

"i want to know is to speak to somebody and know when i can get back into my building to know if my property is safe," said business owner Silvana Degredia.

Most business owners, however, reopened without problems, but also without customers. Many face thousands of dollars in lost revenue from being closed on a normally busy Friday.

"We were building everyday, but this kind of just wiped us out for a day and a half," said business owner Allan Jones.

It was never clear how many residents complied with the evacuation advisory --not an order. Town officials also closed downtown businesses and schools.

"With the hazardous materials, you really don't want to take a risk, especially with small children," said Shane McDonnell, who was back home after spending two nights with his wife and four kids -- ages 13, 12, 8, and 3 -- at an Embassy Suites in nearby Cary. "You don't want anything getting into their respiratory system at an early age."

But slowly but surely things, life began to return to normal throughout the day. Mamma Mia's Pizza, a restaurant that was empty early in the day, served more than a dozen families dinner last night. Business owners hope even more customers will show up Sunday

"It could have been much worse," said Apex Town Manager Bruce Radford.

He also said the incident has taught people to be more aware of what's in their neighborhoods.

"It's amazing sometimes how misinformed we are," he said.

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