A family home destroyed in a gas explosion that injured a mother and her two children has been rebuilt for £50,000 by friendly neighbors – after they discovered the property was uninsured.
Jessica Williams, 34, became seriously ill after the blast and her sons Reuben, eight, and Elliot, five, were also injured in the accident that turned their home into a bomb site.
Ms Williams survived, but when she awoke from the coma she found the house at Seven Sisters in Neath, Wales, had no home insurance.
The community launched an extensive campaign to help rebuild the family home, with even complete strangers volunteering to help. Now, three years after the accident, the family has a brand new home.
Ms. Williams said, “Our home had to be completely rebuilt after it was reduced to rubble.” We couldn’t have done it without so many wonderful people.
Before and after: The destroyed house, left, and the new building that replaces it again, seen on the right
Jessica Williams and her partner Mike thank residents outside their rebuilt home
Jessica Williams with partners Mike and Reuben Elliot before the explosion that destroyed the home
A pregnant Jessica Williams with her partner Mike before the explosion destroyed the house
“We have been blown away by the kindness of our community and total strangers who have given their time and money completely for free.”
“Thinking back on that awful day three years ago, I know how lucky we are to be alive at all. “It feels so incredibly emotional to know that we’re finally going to be moving back into our home.”
The family survived the explosion at their home when they were pulled from the rubble by neighbors in June 2020.
Ms Williams was trapped under a large American fridge while she heard her boys scream for help.
South Wales Police concluded the explosion was most likely caused by a “combination of aging liquid pressurized gas and environmental conditions”.
Now, thanks to volunteers who donated labour, donations and their time, the home has been downsized – and the family is expected to be back by Christmas.
The family home on the day of the June 2020 explosion that completely destroyed the building and injured the mother and two sons
Jessica and Mike are pictured in their rebuilt home and are excited to be back and inside
Jessica Williams is seen in the hospital recovering from the blast after coming out of the coma
Jessica Williams inside the home before the gas explosion rocked the Welsh home
Ms Williams said: “Our boys are really excited about decorating their bedrooms.” Elliot is football mad. He supports Arsenal and wants his room to be decorated with a lot of Cristiano Ronaldo things. This soccer player is his hero.
“Reuben absolutely loves his Xbox and wants his bedroom to have a gaming theme.”
“I just want my candles and my TV and a big, warm blanket over me to make me feel at home again.”
“Elliot was only a year old when the explosion happened so luckily he doesn’t remember much, but Reuben was five and he remembers everything and is nervous and still suffers from anxiety.”
Ms Williams was taken to Morriston Hospital in Swansea after being rescued by neighbors before being placed in an induced coma.
She spent 14 weeks in hospital, being treated for a punctured lung, broken ribs and kidney failure.
She also suffered severe burns on 70 percent of her body and was unable to speak, swallow, or eat.
Sons Reuben and Elliot were flown by plane to Southmead Hospital in Bristol, where they spent three weeks being treated for their serious injuries.
Pictured here is Jessica Williams in hospital recovering from the blast, her limbs covered in bandages
Jessica added, “There are no words to truly describe how grateful we are to all of the people who made it possible for us. I want to thank them all from the bottom of my heart.”
Jessica Williams proudly posed at her home before the devastating explosion went off
Ms Williams’ fiance Michael David, 37, traveled back and forth between the two hospitals to visit Jessica and the boys.
She said, “Also, we didn’t have home insurance.”
“We canceled the policy because Michael said we paid too much and could get a better deal.” But we hadn’t gotten around to setting it up yet.
“We had lost absolutely everything we owned materially.”
“I thought about the sentimental things we would never get back. The keepsake boxes I made for the children of their birth things, their first photos and they had lost every single one of their toys.
“But we’re alive and we’re here.” It’s a miracle we’re alive and the house is back.
“When you look at the state of the house and think we all survived, it’s actually just a miracle.” I’m just grateful that we’re all here.
“The people here are saving our lives and rebuilding our lives through sheer kindness.” It’s so overwhelming.’
She added: “Michael has been an absolute rock to all of us. He was really great. It was awful for him too: he was rushing back and forth between two hospitals 80 miles apart, wondering if we were going to make it.’
Ms. Williams is now back as a preschool principal at the same school her boys attended.
She said: “I was wondering if rebuilding our home would ever happen, but here we are.”
“The worst thing that ever happened to us showed us what wonderful people are out there.” It completely changed my outlook on life.
“I appreciate life’s little pleasures a lot more now – a good cup of coffee, a walk in the park, watching the sunset.”
“I recently did a 20-minute run and thought back to three years ago when I couldn’t even walk. It makes me realize how far I’ve come.
“Our physical scars heal well, but the emotional ones will take longer.” I still need to moisturize my scars every day. The boys have had surgery and may need more surgeries as they grow, but all is well for now.
“There are no words to truly describe how grateful we are to all the people who made it possible for us. I want to thank them all from the bottom of my heart.”
One of those who helped, local contractor Huw, searched through tons of rubble to recover personal belongings.
“It took us two to three weeks a year because we were quietly trying to save everything,” Huw said. “It’s not about getting paid or not — it’s about getting their memories back.”