On Tuesday evening, an explosion destroyed JJ's restaurant, a popular after-work spot in Kansas City, Mo. Authorities have recovered one body at the scene, and at least 15 other people were injured in the blast, which is believed to have been caused by a construction crew accidentally striking a natural gas line.
We asked HuffPost readers in Kansas City how the community has been affected. Readers wrote back to share their photos and memories of JJ's. What came through again and again in the letters was a sense of people looking out for each other, of checking up on friends and loved ones and getting the word out about those who needed help.
Below, you can see a photo of the immediate aftermath of the explosion, taken by Jason Pottenger, a co-worker of HuffPost reader Mary Lynn Stone.
Want to share your photos or your thoughts? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reader Jennifer Nugent told us about the search for a missing pet:
My physician's office and medspa was next door [to the restaurant], and it was destroyed. Fortunately everyone got out safely there, but everyone is trying to help my physician locate his missing yellow lab, who bolted from the scare in the evacuation process. (You can see more on the search for Perseus in this Facebook post.) He brings Perseus and Zeus to the clinic every day. This doctor is a compassionate, wonderful man who ran towards the explosion to try and help anyone injured, despite losing so much. We just want to help him find his dog.
It's all anyone can talk about. While I was eating lunch today in a neighborhood bar & grill, a waitress overheard me mention my doctor's dog, and she knew immediately [what I was talking about] and asked if he'd been found yet. Everybody cares!
I worked in the adjacent building for over four years, and I was a frequent diner at JJ's. It's just heartbreaking. I can't imagine the grief for those injured and the one death, not to mention the employees' and customers' experiences last night. But I also couldn't be prouder of our city services workers and our mayor, Sly James. This is a big small-town, and people pull together to care for each other in times of tragedy.
Keli Jackson let us know how KC residents are marking the incident.
Thankfully, my friends who worked at JJ's were all off work last night, and nobody I love who works or lives nearby was injured. There's a vigil going on today as the community mourns the loss of those missing, as well as the loss of a wonderful establishment. Fear has shaken our city with such a tragic occurrence, but with love and support, injuries to the people involved and the city itself will mend.
Karmello Coleman wrote to say:
JJ's was a great place to dine and their wine collection was world-class. It will be greatly missed. Even more tragic were the injuries and loss of life. Our hearts and prayers go out to the owners and the families of the victims.
And reader Mary Lynn Stone told us about the original art that was lost in the explosion.
I work in an office just one block from JJ's. My co-worker took a photo from outside our office building right after the explosion. You can't see JJ's, but you can see the fire and smoke rising above the building next to JJ's. [Editor's note: Jason's photo appears at the top of this post.]
Many of us ate lunch at JJ's on a regular basis. Some of the men from our office ate there nearly every day.
JJ's was a Kansas City Institution and we are all hoping they will rebuild on the same spot. The interior was decorated with original art by a local artist, Mike Savage. Mr. Savage is famous for his paintings of Kansas City scenery, especially the Plaza buildings and fountains. So in addition to the loss of the beautiful building, there is also the loss of the artwork.
And, of course, our hearts go out to all the people who were injured and the one who died.
Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.
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