UPDATE #14 (7 p.m.) Andover Provides Update on Gas Emergency

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018

Media contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 617-993-0003

Town of Andover Provides Update on Gas Emergency

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.

Showers for Residents

The Town of Andover has placed shower trailers at Pomps Pond (147 Abbot St.) equipped with hot water. A total of 25 showers will be available for residents who have been without hot water for a full week.

The showers will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and will continue as needed. Residents need to bring their own shower supplies including towels. There will be a limited number of showers designated for family use.

There is also an accessible shower for those with mobility impairments located at the Andover Senior Center (30 Whittier Court). Those are available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to noon for as long as they are needed. Anyone who needs accessible shower must call the Senior Center at 978-623-8620 for an appointment time.

Medical Reserve Corps volunteers will be assisting in staffing the trailers.

Business Information

More than 100 Andover businesses, including 67 food service establishments, are in the affected zone and are losing money each day that they do not have gas service.

“Restaurants can’t cook without gas, and they can’t wash dishes without hot water, and we will not forget our business community. They are the lifeblood of our town,” Town Manager Flangan said. “Our entire downtown is in the affected zone, and we must do what we can for business owners and workers. We are actively working and advocating for our business community to help them recover lost revenue.”

The Andover Economic Development Council is actively working with the business community to guide owners through this situation.

By the end of the week, the town expects to announce a plan and programs aimed at helping businesses repair damage, restore operations, and flourish.

Claims Center Update

Yesterday, Columbia Gas has opened a claims center at the Old Town Hall, 20 Main St.  A total of 300 residents initiated the claims process yesterday and hundreds more are expected today. The Andover claims center is open noon to 8 p.m. through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Claims can also be initiated by phone at 800-590-5571.

Fire Rescue Update

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors 

Chief Mansfield urges residents to replace the batteries in their smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. A limited quantity of 9-volt batteries are available to residents in need. Call 978-475-1281 for more information.

Heating Safety

With gas service not expected to be restored to the affected zone for several weeks, Chief Mansfield is strongly urging residents to follow these fire safety guidelines:

  • Ensure there are working smoke/CO detectors in every level and outside bedrooms
  • Test smoke/CO detectors monthly
  • Chimneys should be professionally cleaned annually
  • Wood and pellet stoves may only be installed with a permit
  • Keep debris, clothing, and anything else that can burn at lest three feet away from wood and pellet stoves or space heaters
  • Dispose of ashes in a metal container with a lid and store the container away from the house/garage/porch/deck.
  • Do not use a space heater as your primary heat source
  • Plug space heaters directly into walls or only use heavy-duty or appliance-grade extension cords
  • Never leave space heaters unattended — do not run them while you are not home
  • Portable kerosene heaters are illegal in Massachusetts for home use

Emergency Operations Center

The Andover Emergency Operations Center (EOC) continues to operate, and has operated continuously since 5 p.m. Thursday. Located at the Andover Public Safety complex, the EOC is made up of department heads and inter-agency liaisons from Andover Police, Fire Rescue, Town Manager’s Office, Public Works, Schools, Health Division, Facilities, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and Columbia Gas.

Unaffected Area Updates

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.

However, the town has not received updated numbers since 10 a.m. yesterday.  At the last update, out of the 3,021 customers in the unaffected area, 2,493 had been turned back on. 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.

Affected Area Updates

There are 1,831 gas customers in the affected area.

The town has been informed that the affected area includes gas customers NORTH of RT. 28 at Salem St. (Toward Lawrence and the Merrimack River.)

The unaffected area includes those SOUTH of Rt. 28 at Salem Street and those WEST of Beacon Street at Reservation Road (Toward Tewksbury).

As soon as the Town has a specific list or map, it will be released to the public.

In the affected zone, 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.

Disaster Relief

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.

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.

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