FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, Sept. 21, 2018
Media contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Town of Andover Provides Update on Restoration Plans Following 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.
For an in-depth breakdown of the restoration schedule, including information about the distribution of space heaters and hot plates for residents in the affected area, click here.
Gas Service Restoration
Starting Wednesday, Sept. 26, crews consisting of a plumber, electrician, building inspector and a member of the national guard will go to all of the homes and businesses in the impacted area, where they will conduct assessments to make sure those buildings are ready for gas restoration and identify any appliances that will need to be replaced.
Columbia Gas has made a commitment to the Town of Andover that it will provide residents and business owners at least 48 hours notice prior to arriving for an assessment.
“I have continued to stress the importance of letting community members know in advance of their assessment so they can plan ahead, and so that the restoration process can move as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Town Manager Flanagan. “I’m confident that the plan we have in place is the most prudent way to help our residents and business owners get back to normal, and the Town of Andover is deeply committed to seeing this process through to a successful conclusion.”
Municipal resources will be deployed to neighborhoods during each phase of the restoration effort so that residents’ and business owners’ questions can be answered. The town will provide daily updates as the community continues its recovery.
Employees and contractors will all carry identification. Contractors will carry a white badge stating that they are an “Authorized Visitor for Columbia Gas of Massachusetts”. If you have any concerns please contact the Andover Police Department at (978) 475-0411
Hot Water Heaters
Residents and business owners who choose to convert their gas hot water heaters to electric ones may do so on their own via a licensed electrician. The Town of Andover is waiving the conversion fee for this process, and Town Manager Flanagan is actively working to ensure that Columbia Gas reimburses anyone who chooses to make such a conversion.
Gas Line Repair Work
Starting Monday, Sept. 24, 20 construction crews will begin working in Andover to restore gas service to the affected area. The number of crews working in Andover will rise to 65 on Monday, Oct. 1.
Daily, over the next several weeks, the Town of Andover 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 residents within an approximately 1/4 mile radius of any construction.
Road detours will also be broadcast daily, if necessary.
Full restoration is expected to be completed by approximately Nov. 19.
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: 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 than1,000 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. Next week, the claims center will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
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.
The Department of Revenue has approved a plan, which Town Manager Flanagan has consistently advocated for, that will allow businesses impacted by the gas emergency to file their meals tax payments one month late without penalty. The Department of Revenue will evaluate a further extension of tax deadlines at a later date.
Columbia Gas has committed to pay for the replacement of any appliances that were damaged.
Space Heaters and Hot Plates
On Saturday, Sept. 22, hot plates will be available for pickup in the driveway in front of the Town Offices, 36 Bartlet St., from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Portable space heaters will be made available to residents who request them, and will be delivered to by electricians who will evaluate homes to ensure they can be used safely. Those in need of a portable space heater should arrange this through a representative at the claims center.
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 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.