Frank Leslie is homebound and wasn't evacuated until Mobility Matters picked him up Thursday morning, long after others had been moved out of the area. (Julia McEvoy/KQED)
Frank Leslie lives in Emerald Cove Mobile Home Park and he is homebound. He learned about a fire in an underground vault that houses a natural gas pipeline nearby while watching the evening news. Then he went to sleep.
While other Pittsburg and Bay Point residents were being evacuated through the night, Leslie says he didn't get picked up until 8 a.m. He's registered with Mobility Matters, a ride service for Contra Costa County seniors. And he's grateful they showed up. But had there been an explosion, he wonders if he would have made it out in time.
"My wife passed away in 2007 and I almost starved to death," he says. "That's when I got into social service and got a social worker. They connected me with Friendly Callers and Mobility Matters."
On Thursday morning, Leslie says he fell while trying to hurry out the door after returning for his phone charger.
"I'm sore as heck," he said. But he's glad things didn't turn out worse and he's eager to return home.
Officials evacuated 4,000 residents during the incident and opened a shelter at Los Medanos College. That's where Leslie and other residents waited as crews worked to reduce the risk from the pipeline.
The Rubio kids said it was confusing and scary to get the knock on the door in the middle of the night telling them to leave their home. But they were grateful to be playing basketball at the Los Medranos College gymnasium and getting breakfast from Denny's.
"I wish I was at school, because of my friends," said 13-year-old Kevin Rubio. His sister, 10-year-old Kimberly, said she was sad because she's missing her clarinet lesson. The youngest, 7-year-old Edwin, said he was OK at the evacuation center because, "we get to play and stay calm." Their mother, Cecilia Buelna, said she was exhausted after a sleepless night moving her kids from BART to Los Medranos, per police evacuation orders.
Pastor Jason Bishop said his mission was to put a smile on people's faces as hundreds camped out through out his church, which set up as an evacuation center. Bishop says many were bused from their neighborhoods to his church and from BART, which was initially the first place people were sent to. Bishop says local schools had helped donate food to serve lunch.
"We have a lot of people in their cars in the parking lot because they can't bring their pets into the church. People inside might have allergies," he said. "And I get it, in the midst of a crisis you don't want an issue with your pet as well."
Leandre Jones, 22, says his mom woke him up after police told them to leave their home.
"It was confusing," he said. "We all piled in the car and went to BART where they told us to go. And it was freezing." Jones said the church evacuation center made them feel at home. "They gave us a couple of blankets." But his little brother wasn't going to school.
"My mom's a little overprotective so we are staying together," he said. "We're just waiting till everything unfolds and hopefully everything will be alright."
On Wednesday afternoon, Contra Costa officials issued the all-clear for the emergency situation. Residents finally got to head home.