WASHINGTON -- "Boston is on lockdown, but everyone's just being good neighbors and welcoming people into their homes," said Joshua Dawson, a Democratic candidate for state representative from the section of Boston where the marathon was hit by at least two bombs Monday.
Dawson said he was headed out to knock on doors at about 3 p.m. Monday, and when he turned toward his Boylston Street office, "It felt like somebody punched me in the chest, even though it was technically behind me.
"It was the loudest explosion I've ever heard in my life, and I felt it rip through my fingers and my feet," Dawson told HuffPost. "My ears are still ringing right now, six hours later. It smelled like burning chemicals, and I grew up in Ohio, so I know what industrial burns smell like. This was different. It was as though someone threw a bunch of batteries in a fire."
Dawson, 30, a Back Bay resident who resigned as head of state Treasurer Steve Grossman's campaign committee this year to campaign for state House, said the neighborhood has a lot of security and surveillance. "One thing about this neighborhood, is that there are banks all over Boylston Street, and they all have cameras in their windows," he said.
When he returned to his house, Dawson noticed three young people milling around outside on the stoop and invited them inside. One was Kelsey Hoar, a senior at the University of New Hampshire. "We were volunteering at the race," said Hoar, an exercise science student.
As they tried to find their car, she said "people stopped us and said, 'Turn around, you don't want to go to the finish,'" Hoar said. "We saw injured people and emergency vehicles, but all of our phones had died. Even now, we're using Wi-Fi to reach our loved ones."
Hoar and her two classmates, Lauren Milligan and Colleen Murphy, spent hours at Dawson's house and were optimistic about getting home on a late-night train.
"At first, I was in disbelief, thinking that couldn't happen" at the Boston Marathon, "where everyone's together and happy. But this makes Northern New England feel less safe."
See other politicians' reactions to the marathon explosion below, and scroll down for a blog with latest updates on the incident: