FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, Oct. 5, 2018
Media contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Town of Andover Provides Update on Gas Emergency Recovery Process
ANDOVER –The Town of Andover wishes to provide residents and business owners with several key updates regarding the town’s ongoing recovery and restoration efforts following last month’s Merrimack Valley Gas Emergency.
Columbia Gas released its “House Ready” plan, which further outlines the timeline for restoring gas service to homes and neighborhoods. Alternative housing is being made available to customers impacted by the Sept. 13 gas line incident who choose not to stay in their homes as the weather turns colder, and while crews continue to work daily to restore gas service to all affected customers.
Columbia Gas also provides a daily briefing that summarizes the restoration process. Click here to read today’s briefing.
Assessment and Construction Schedule
Nearly 13.5 miles of main line pipe have been replaced to date in the three impacted communities. Additionally, 549 service lines — including 335 that are “gas ready” — have been replaced in the affected area.
A total of 53 construction crews are working in Andover today, with 57 crews scheduled for Saturday.
A total of 2,038 gas meters are in the affected zone in Andover.
Columbia Gas today released its “house ready” plan for the area, which is in addition to the “gas ready” schedule it previously released.
To read the full announcement of the House Ready plan, click here.
Gas Ready Construction Plan
Columbia Gas has released its “Gas Ready Construction Plan” detailing plans and offering schedules for the restoration of service to thousands of affected gas customers in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence. Click here to download the plan
House Ready Plan
Columbia Gas has released its “House Ready Plan.” Click here to download the plan
Full assessments of homes and businesses are continuing with expected completion by October 19. The installation process, driven by what’s learned during the full assessments, will align closely with the ‘Gas Ready’ construction plan scheduled to be complete by November 19.
Columbia Gas’ contract partners, Gilbane Reconstruction Services, will follow a block approach to assign crews in the field, based on experience developed in their response to Hurricane Sandy. Similar to a production line, they will follow streets and blocks in a neighborhood and deploy crews to disconnect and remove damaged appliances, repair or replace in-home gas lines, and connect new appliances to make the home ‘Gas Ready’.
With 63 projects across the 8 zones, there will be multiple blocks within each of the zones.
- Customers will be notified by Columbia Gas when to expect installation crews to be in their block. A new interactive map will be available on Monday, October 8 at www.ColumbiaGasMA.com, which will enable customers to check the status of projects in their neighborhood.
- Customers working through the claims process should continue to work with their claims adjuster. Additional information on claims is available on ColumbiaGasMA.com.
The path to service restoration includes three areas of work:
• Making Your Home or Business ‘Gas Ready:’ Construction crews will install the main gas line on your street that brings gas into the area. Service lines will connect your home or business to the main line.
• Making Your Home or Business ‘House Ready:’ Assessment teams will, if they have not already, visit your home or business to assess your natural gas appliances and piping, and review options with you. The installation process will complete repairs and connect new appliances.
• Natural Gas Service Relight: To restore natural gas service to your home or business, all work inside and outside your home or business must first be completed. Once your home or business is both ‘Gas Ready’ and ‘House Ready,’ a Columbia Gas representative will visit your home or business, perform additional safety checks and restore your natural gas service.
All gas customers will need an assessment of their homes, including gas lines and appliances. Crews wearing identification continue to fan out across neighborhoods. More than 2,100 assessments have been completed across the three communities, representing about one-third of the assessment work needed in Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence to date.
The following streets are scheduled for assessments today, Oct. 5:
- Chickering Court
- Flint Circle
- Harding Street
- Hartigan Court
- Temple Place
- Walnut Avenue
For the most up to date information from Columbia Gas on the streets where assessment teams will be deployed, click here.
The assessment will include the following steps:
- First, the assessors will evaluate and inventory gas-fueled appliances. Specifically, representatives will evaluate the furnace or boiler for repairs and inventory for replacement of gas water heaters and all other gas-fueled appliances. Photos will be taken so that Columbia Gas can replace gas-fueled appliances with like kind and quality appliances.
- Second, Columbia Gas will pressure test in-home gas piping to see if it is damaged.
- Finally, if a resident has not yet had a space heater assessment, an assessment of the electrical capacity of the home will be performed. If the home has the electrical capacity to safely support a space heater, the assessment teams will provide one during the visit. If needed, Columbia will install smoke alarms/CO detectors.
Andover is deploying town resources each day to support the assessment effort and assist residents.
Free Parking Downtown
Due to the construction in the downtown area, the Town of Andover will not be collecting parking fees at municipal parking lots. The Town encourages downtown visitors to park in the municipal parking lots. This includes Lot 1 (between Andover Village Square and Caffé Nero), Lot 2 (behind Old Town Hall) and Lot 3 (Park Street Village). This will be evaluated on a weekly basis.
The housing program, which includes hotel rooms, apartments, travel trailers, and combination warming centers and shelters, is being coordinated by Columbia Gas with support from local and state agencies and other partners. Impacted customers will be able to stay in alternative housing until service to their homes is restored.
For customers calling today (Oct. 5), hotels and apartments are available. Travel trailer options will be available in the coming days, and the congregate shelter will be open on Monday, Oct. 8. Columbia Gas has announced that it aims to restore gas service, including heat and hot water, to all homes by Nov. 19. In addition to housing options, congregate shelter locations will be available for residents to use as an overnight option and for daytime use for hot showers and warming centers.
Impacted Columbia Gas customers who choose to be placed in alternative housing should call Columbia Gas’ Claims line: 1-800-590-5571.
A member of the Housing Assistance Team will gather information from the customer, including information about access and functional needs, size and family makeup, and individual and family needs. This information will be used to identify housing options for customers.
If qualified, approval of temporary housing will be provided during the call and the information will be passed to a housing assignment team who will call you with your placement.
Transportation arrangements will be provided for residents staying in hotels and apartments who do not have their own means of transportation, including Uber and Lyft rideshare services. Information will be provided to residents during the placement process.
Columbia’s Housing Assistance Claim Team will offer customers one of the available housing options:
- Hotels–Over 3,000 hotel rooms have been reserved by Columbia Gas through mid-November for use by its customers. The participating hotels are all within approximately 30 miles of the three impacted communities. Transportation arrangements will be provided for residents who do not have their own means of transportation, including Uber and Lyft rideshare services.
- Apartments – Over 150 one, two, and three bedroom apartments have been leased by Columbia Gas for use by customers. The apartments are within approximately 15 miles of the impacted communities. Transportation arrangements will be provided for residents who do not have their own means of transportation, including Uber and Lyft rideshare services.
- Travel Trailers – 360 new travel trailers have been leased by Columbia Gas to be used as temporary housing for families, and will be located in each of the three communities. The trailers in Andover will be located at Recreation Park. The travel trailers are 30 feet in length and include kitchens, bathrooms with showers, and sleeping accommodations for up to 8 people. Each trailer site will have around the clock management, maintenance and security personnel. The trailer sites will be operational next week. Residents must contact Columbia Gas to coordinate housing placements, and will not be assigned to travel trailers on site.
- Congregate Sheltering – a combination warming center and congregate shelter will be located at IndusPAD Mill, formerly Malden Mills, at 46 Stafford St. in Lawrence. Initially, the shelter will have an overnight capacity of 250 people, but it will scale up to 1,000 people if the demand increases due to cold weather. Columbia Gas customers can also visit the shelter during the daytime for hot showers, and to use as a warming center. The overnight shelter will be used to meet short-term demand due to cold weather.
Housing needs will continue to be assessed throughout the recovery process and additional options will be coordinated as necessary.
For additional information and slides, see: Greater Lawrence Housing Options
These housing alternatives, and other recovery programs, are in response to the Sept. 13 incident that impacted Columbia Gas customers in Lawrence, North Andover, and Andover, and left approximately 10,000 households without heat and hot water. The housing assistance program, which will remain in place until gas service is restored for residences, is being paid for by Columbia Gas.
The Division of Insurance will host a series of information sessions on Thursday, October 11, 2018 in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence.
As recovery efforts continue, the Division is holding these sessions to provide consumers and businesses affected by the fires and gas explosions with information on how to file disaster- related insurance claims. Division officials will also summarize the efforts taken by the Division thus far and answer questions regarding how carriers should be responding to a homeowner or business filing an insurance claim. These sessions will also include input from insurance carriers and others providing assistance at claim centers.
Each information session will conclude with a Question and Answer period. Bilingual language assistance will be available. The session in Andover will be held from 9-10:30 a.m. at the Andover Town Offices Board of Selectmen’s Meeting Room, 36 Bartlet St.
Small Business Loan Program
Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera, North Andover Town Manager Andrew Maylor and Andover Town Manager Flanagan late last week announced a $1 million emergency loan program for businesses impacted by the gas emergency.
The fund will offer emergency loans to eligible businesses with no payments and no interest for the first six months. For businesses that extend beyond a six month period, market rates will apply and loans will be able to be extended or restructured for multi-year term loans.
The fund opened Oct. 1, and has an expedited application and approval process, with the goal of getting all applications processed within 24 and 48 hours.
For more information visit: www.wearelawrence.org/lawrencegasresponsebusiness.
Relief Fund and Claims Center
In response to the overwhelming needs facing those impacted by the Sept. 13 over-pressurization of the low pressure gas pipeline in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence, Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Dan Rivera, Town Manager Andrew Flanagan, and Town Manager Andrew Maylor announced the establishment of the Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund to provide assistance with short- and long-term shelter and sustenance needs. The Fund is being supported by donations from Columbia Gas and generous members of the community.
Resources from the Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund (GLDRF) will support household units and businesses affected by the 7,500 Columbia Gas meters on the low-pressure lines in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover who have been without gas since Sept. 13.
- Online at www.GLDRF.org (link will be live October 3, this is the fastest and easiest way to apply)
- Over the phone by dialing 2-1-1, for those who cannot apply online
- In person for anyone in need of assistance at Andover’s drop-in center.
Columbia Gas Claims Center and GLDRF Hours Next Week:
Old Town Hall – 20 Main Street, Andover
Tuesday, Oct. 9 – Noon – 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 10 – Noon – 8 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 11 – Noon – 8 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 12 – Noon – 8 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 13 – 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
While residents and businesses are encouraged to apply online, they will be notified within 3-5 business days regarding the status of their application regardless of which method they use to apply for assistance.
Resources from the Fund will support the short and long-term shelter and sustenance needs of the more than 10,000 household units and businesses affected by the 7,500 Columbia Gas meters on the low-pressure lines in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. Thousands of residents and businesses in these communities have been without gas since Sept. 13, when gas fires and explosions from over-pressurized gas lines destroyed homes and neighborhoods.
Resources from the Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund will support household units and businesses affected by the 7,500 Columbia Gas meters on the low-pressure lines in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover who have been without gas since Sept. 13.
Only those who have no gas, and will continue to be without service during the restoration process are eligible for assistance through the GLDRF.
If you are one of the 7,500 metered household units or businesses affected, you are invited to apply for funding by completing the form below for financial support from the Fund.
Only one application per household unit will be awarded the stipend check. The head of the household should apply. The head of household is considered the person whose name appears on the deed, mortgage, lease/rental receipts, or utility and other household bills.
Only one application per business address will be awarded the stipend check.
The Fund will provide a $550 stipend check per household unit or business to those who are eligible.
Volunteers are needed to support this application process and the Drop-In locations.
To find out more about volunteer roles needed: Andover, North Andover or South Lawrence sites: visit https://www.signupgenius.com/go/GLDRFVolunteer
For more information about the Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund and the process to apply for financial resources, please visit www.eccf.org/GLDisasterReliefFund.
Showers for Residents
Free showers remain available for residents at Pomps Pond through at least next Friday. The showers will be open along the following schedule:
- Saturday, Oct. 6: Noon to 4 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 7: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Monday, Oct. 8 (Columbus Day): 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Tuesday, Oct. 9 through Friday, Oct. 12: 4-8 p.m.
Attorney General Hotline
Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has established a hotline for those with questions and concerns. Residents and business owners may contact the Attorney General’s new hotline at 617-573-5370 in order to connect with specialists in the office who are able to handle questions about legal representation, home improvement scams, and insurance claims from homeowners, renters, and local businesses.
Andover Elder Services Lunch Program
Andover Elder Services is continuing its lunch program. The lunch is available for those age 60 or older for a suggested donation of $2.50 or for those under age 60 for a cost of $4.50.
Elder Services is also offering the following FREE food programs this month:
- Coffee, Tea and a Daily Snack: Weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Soup Nights, Thursdays from 5-6 p.m. (RSVP requested)
Regardless of age, anyone affected by the gas emergency is encouraged to reach out to Andover Elder Services at 978-623-8321 for assistance and free/discounted meals.
Programs take place at the Andover Senior Center, 30 Whittier Court.
Town officials will continue to provide regular updates as they’re made available.