FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018
Media contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
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.
A formal gas line repair/replacement plan will be released by Columbia Gas tomorrow (Friday).
Gas Line Repair Work
Over the next several weeks, the Town of Andover and Columbia Gas will announce specific streets or areas that will have road and gas line construction.
Areas under construction will be announced via the news media, town website, and social media every day. The town will also issue a CodeRED alert to all residents within an approximately 1/4 mile radius of any construction.
Road detours will also be broadcast daily, if necessary.
Lawrence Regional Recovery Resource Center
The Baker-Polito Administration today announced updated information for the Recovery Resource Center (RRC). The RRC will continue to provide services and programs to meet the needs of residents of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover through at least the end of the week.
Schedule: Thursday, Sept 20 and Friday, Sept. 21: noon to 7 p.m.
Address: Elks Lodge, 652 Andover Street, Lawrence
The Recovery Resource Center will be staffed by representatives of municipal and state agencies as well as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army and disaster relief organizations affiliated with Massachusetts Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). State agencies on-hand include the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Department of Children and Families (DCF), Department of Mental Health (DMH), Registry of Motor Vehicles, and Division of Insurance (DOI).
The RRC is open to residents and the business community from Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. This is separate from the Columbia Gas claims center that has been opened in Andover.
Columbia Gas Claims Center Update
On Tuesday, Columbia Gas has opened a claims center at the Old Town Hall, 20 Main St. More than 600 residents and members of the business community have initiated the claims process on-site so far.
The Andover claims center is open noon to 8 p.m. through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and will continue to operate next week with the same operating hours. Claims can also be initiated by phone at 800-590-5571.
Town leaders wish to express their gratitude to those who have come to the claims center, as the residents, business owners, and workers have been calm, orderly, and polite despite the disarray this incident has brought into their lives and livelihoods.
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 are 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, shampoo, conditioner, and soap. 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 on Saturdays 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 are assisting in staffing the trailers.
Fire Rescue Update
Chief Mansfield has heard from a number of residents seeking to use Liquefied Petroleum Gases (LPG), commonly referred to as propane, as a temporary substitute for natural gas.
Andover Fire Rescue prohibits the use of propane for household purposes where piped natural gas is available from a public utility. However, propane will be permitted when natural gas us unavailable.
A permit is required, and there are specific safety regulations that must be followed by contractors and homeowners.
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.
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 been running 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
Columbia Gas today informed the Town of Andover that it has restored service to 4,269 natural gas customers in the unaffected area. According to Columbia,154 gas customers remain offline in the unaffected area. Of those, 87 meters are being actively worked on at this time, and 67 customers have not been home to allow a gas technician inside.
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. If you are in the unaffected area and do not have gas service, you must call this number.
Affected Area Updates
The town has been informed that the affected area includes gas customers NORTH of the intersection of RT. 28 at Salem St. (Toward Lawrence and the Merrimack River.)
The unaffected area includes those SOUTH of the intersection 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, the parent company of Columbia Gas, 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.
Note to contractors: The trailer is only for gas permits. Building permits and electrical permits (e.g. a permit to install an electric hot water heater to replace a gas one) must be pulled at Andover Town Hall (36 Bartlet St.)
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.
The Senior Center will continue the complimentary lunch program through next week.
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.