FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018
Media contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Town of Andover Provides Update on Gas Emergency
Claims Center Opening in Town Today at 1 p.m.
ANDOVER — Town Manager Andrew P. Flanagan, Police Chief Patrick Keefe, Fire Chief Michael B. Mansfield, and Andover’s town government department heads seek to continuously update residents on the status of restoration efforts in the aftermath of the Merrimack Valley gas emergency.
After a meeting between Andover officials, including Town Manager Flanagan and Deputy Town Manager Michael Lindstrom, Columbia Gas has agreed to opened a claims center at the Old Town Hall, 20 Main St. The claims center is slated to open TODAY by 1 p.m. and will be staffed with multiple claims representatives. The claims center will be open until 8 p.m today and will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Claims can also be initiated by phone at 800-590-5571.
NiSource Inc., the parent company of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, has notified the Towns of Andover that it has restored natural gas service most of the customers in the unaffected area of town, who turned off their service on Thursday as this emergency was unfolding. Out of the 3,021 customers in this area, 2,493 were turned back on as of 10 a.m. Tuesday. A total of 168 homes were inaccessible/residents not home, and there are still 360 homes on Columbia’s list that teams are still working to re-connect.
Customers are reminded to call Columbia at 866-388-3239 if they are in the unaffected area and still have not had gas service restored.
A total of 207 gas crews are working in Andover at this time to complete the restoration progress for gas customers in the unaffected areas.
In the affected regions, all gas customers may have sustained damage to their service lines, furnaces, water heaters, and/or gas appliances. NiSource has also committed to either replacing all damaged infrastructure and appliances or fully reimbursing residents who choose to and have the means to pay for repairs or replacement costs out of pocket.
If a resident cannot afford repair or replacement costs, NiSource will arrange for this work to be done for free. If a resident is able to and chooses to arrange for repairs or replacements on their own, NiSource will reimburse all costs.
Residents who incur out-of-pocket expenses will be required to save their receipts and provide proof of damage such as photos or police/fire incident reports.
The Town of Andover is not charging residents or business owners any permit fees for the contracted work or repairs that need to be performed as a result of the gas emergency. An office trailer, generously donated by Suffolk Construction Company, is located behind the Old Town Hall (20 Main St.) for contractors to pull permits at no charge. The trailer is staffed by state inspectors. At the town’s request, NiSource is allowing residents to have any licensed contractor pull repair work permits to begin repair work. Residents do not have to use a specific vendor recommended by NiSource.
The trailer will be in place for as long as it is needed. This will allow contractors for residents in the affected area to quickly get started on vital repairs inside their homes. Please note that only contractors may pull permits for this work. Residents should not come to the trailer to obtain a permit.
Town Manager Flangan has been working directly with Mayor Dan Rivera, North Andover Town Manager Andrew Maylor, and Governor Charlie Baker to establish a single disaster relief fund that will provide assistance to individuals and businesses impacted by this incident. Details will be released as soon as they are available.
Free Meals and Food for Residents
The Andover Community Services Department is offering free continental breakfast and a hot lunch for all residents every day through Friday, September 21. Residents are asked to call and register at 978-623-8320.
Meals will be served from 8-9 a.m and from noon to 12:30 p.m.
Andover Elder Services also has fresh food and vegetables available free for anyone in need who comes to the Senior Center at 30 Whittier Court. Food will be given out from noon-3 p.m.
For those in need, the food pantry will also be open during normal hours on Thursday, September 20 from 4-5 p.m. at the Senior Center.
Public Health Update
Director of Public Health Thomas Carbone and Assistant Director Joanne Belanger wish to acknowledge the work of Andover’s Greater River Valley Medical Reserve Corps, which is staffed 100 percent by volunteers including registered nurses, medical doctors, emergency medical technicians, behavioral health specialists, social workers and civilian non-medical volunteers.
Like all other agencies during this incident, the Greater River Valley Medical Reserve Corps also receive mutual aid. MRC agencies from Upper Merrimack Valley, Woburn, North Shore/Cape Ann, Topsfield Regional, Mystic Valley, Greater Fall River, and Greater New Bedford staffed the Andover Senior Center receiving center constantly during this emergency. Medical professionals and other volunteers worked 10 eight-hour shifts during the crisis.
“We are extremely grateful to everyone who volunteered their time and expertise to support the residents of our community in their time of need,” Director Carbone said.
Health Division staff are also working with affected restaurants to ensure they meet health and safety codes and are able to reopen. Mutual Aid resources from other communities are being used to assist in this workload.
Trash and Recycling Pickup
Director of Public Works Christopher Cronin: The Town of Andover is collecting trash and recycling on a holiday week schedule. Therefore, if your regular collection day is Friday, you will receive collection service on Monday. Monday service will be collected on Tuesday, Tuesday service will be collected on Wednesday, and so forth.
Republic Services understands that there will likely be increased rubbish volume this week, and all of that increased volume will be collected. Residents should make every reasonable effort to place trash bags in covered containers as always, in order to avoid litter. The town is coordinating with Republic Services to bring in additional resources if needed.
Residents with any questions are asked to refer to the Town of Andover website or call the Department of Public Works on Monday at 978-623-8700 and press 0 for the operator.
Updates will continue to be posted on the town’s official website at www.andoverma.gov and on the town’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.