FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018
Media contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
UPDATE #17 (5 p.m.) Town of Andover Provides Update on Reimbursement, 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.
Town officials handed out 700 free hot plates in Andover today to temporarily assist residents in the affected area with cooking meals. The town will continue hot plate distribution on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the Town Offices.
After meeting with Town Manager Flanagan, Governor Baker’s office, and other municipal officials, Columbia Gas has greed to compensate all of its customers for all losses related to the Merrimack Valley gas emergency.
- Bodily injury
- Damage to property
- Disruption of businesses
- Inconvenience and disruption of everyday activities caused by loss of use of gas service
- Efforts to limit or mitigate the loss, such as switching from gas hot water heaters to electric or temporary solutions to heat, hot water, and cooking
Residents are advised to call the 24-hour claims hotline at 1-800-590-5571 to initiate the process.
“We have been at the table with Columbia Gas since the very first hours of this crisis, and we are very pleased to have a commitment, in writing, to our residents and business community,” Town Manager Flanagan said.
From Columbia Gas:
“Columbia Gas will reimburse residential customers for reasonable costs of permanently switching to an alternative fuel source (e.g. electric or oil) for appliances or systems that were fueled by natural gas prior to the outage. If you wish to temporarily switch to appliances and systems that are fueled by sources other than natural gas for the duration of the outage, and then return to gas-fueled appliances, Columbia Gas will reimburse for reasonable costs associated with both the temporary solution as well as the return to gas-fueled appliances and systems.
“Residents may elect to contract directly with an appropriate certified licensed contractor to install appliances and systems that are fueled by an alternative fuel source (e.g. electric or oil). If you do hire such a contractor, we request the licensed contractor provide you detailed receipts, including your name, service address, make/model of parts, and labor, so that Columbia Gas may reimburse you for reasonable costs.”
Gas Service Restoration
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.
Starting Wednesday, Sept. 26, crews consisting of a plumber, electrician, Andover town 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.
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.”
These workers will NOT ask for any money, payment, or credit card/banking information whatsoever. If you have any concerns please contact the Andover Police Department at 978-475-0411
Gas Line Repair Work
Starting Monday, Sept. 24, a total of 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.
Showers for Residents
The hot showers available at Pomp’s Pond (147 Abbot Street) will remain open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Monday through at least Wednesday from noon to 8 p.m.
A total of 25 showers are available for residents who have been without hot water for more than a week.
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 is 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
Unaffected Area Updates
Columbia Gas yesterday informed the Town of Andover that it has restored service to virtually all natural gas customers in the affected area, except for a few dozen that have not been present to allow gas crews to come inside.
Customers are reminded to call Columbia Gas 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.