COLUMBIA, Md — It was an explosion that rocked the Columbia community physically and now emotionally as business owners grapple with the loss and people step up to support them.
"There's a lot of blood, sweat and tears that built it and that's what we are going to miss," said Dave Buscher, owner of Krav Maga Maryland.
He opened the Stanford Boulevard location 15 years ago. Now the martial arts studio and fitness center has 500 members and 60 classes a week. He's one for 22 business owners forced to find a new space.
"We need to get our people training again. You know you don't want to stop so we started finding space in pop-up locations. We had our first class Monday," said Buscher.
The shopping center has been closed since early Sunday morning when a gas leak led to a massive explosion felt for miles that nearly leveled parts of the building. Fire officials say it's still at the risk of collapsing and conducted a structural inspection to figure out what parts are safe for business owners to go in and start recovering property.
Along with many uprooted businesses, customers are distraught over the loss of their favorite spots. A local tailor, coffee shop, dentist, nail salon and restaurant among the businesses forced to close.
"I was coming here for a nail appointment at Pro Nails shop when I came up the street and saw this disaster," said Suzette.
She has traveled from Silver Spring to Columbia every two weeks for the last 15 years to get her nails done here.
"I felt bad for them and I'm thinking do they have another place to go? Most of them do," said Suzette.
Some businesses aren't so lucky. Dr. Anthony Sims' dentistry practice is located near ground zero of the blast.
"It's pretty much done for," said Sims after surveying the damage.
He lost tons of special equipment he uses to treat TMJ and movement disorders.
"Some [equipment] I just bought less than a year ago so it is what it is. I can't change it. I just view it as God telling me forget your past. Go on to your future," Sims said.
He's not exactly sure what that future looks like but he, like many of these business owners, won't stop fighting for it.
"We're just going to move on, help as many people as we can still. That's my goal. That's what I believe my thing in life is: to help other people have a better quality of life," said Sims.
The Howard County government is helping businesses relocate but some find temporary spaces on their own in the last day. Krav Maga Maryland is hosting pop-ups to keep business going. Their next one is Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Revolve Wellness Studios in Catonsville.
It's open to anyone who wants to register. Follow their Facebook page for updates on pop-ups.