FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018
Media contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Town of Andover Provides Update on Gas Emergency Recovery Process
ANDOVER –The Town of Andover continuously seeks to provide residents and business owners with key updates regarding the ongoing recovery and restoration efforts following last month’s Merrimack Valley Gas Emergency.
Columbia Gas reports that 18 of the nearly 50 miles of affected pipe have been replaced as of Sunday. A total of 877 service lines in Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence have been replaced.
In Andover, 1,964 residential dwellings and 283 businesses remain without gas service as of Sunday, according to Columbia Gas.
Columbia Gas also provides a daily briefing that summarizes the restoration process. Click here to read today’s briefing.
A total of 19 construction crews are working on main line repair and installation work in Andover Sunday with a ramp up to 53 crews expected each day on Monday (Columbus Day), Tuesday. and Wednesday.
Nine hundred and fifty nine Columbia Gas employees are dedicated to restoration efforts at this time, including crews from Massachusetts, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia,
“We continue to be in constant communication with Columbia Gas as well as our state partners and neighboring municipal government leaders in Lawrence and North Andover. I am pleased that good progress is being made, and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that Columbia Gas lives up to its promises and that no Andover resident or business is left behind,” Town Manager Flanagan said.
Assessment and Installation Operations
Columbia Gas continues to conduct detailed assessments of homes and businesses to determine the repair and replacement needs of each gas customer.
Automated phone calls from Columbia Gas have ceased. A new interactive map will be available on Monday at ColumbiaGasMA.com, which will enable customers to check the status of projects in their neighborhood’s assessments.
Streets that assessment crews previously visited will be re-visited Sunday in order to reach those whose homes and businesses have yet to be assessed.
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.
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 3,100 assessments have been completed across the three communities.
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.
A total of 276 Andover residents from 101 different families have been placed in Alternative housing funded by Columbia Gas as of Sunday, up from 150 on Saturday.
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.
Hotels and apartments are currently 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 or before 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: 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
Columbia Gas reports that its claims center has received 19,103 calls as of Sunday morning, including more than 3,800 calls from Andover residents. Columbia has paid out $2.21 million to Andover residents and businesses thus far.
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
- 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.
Only those who have no gas, and will continue to be without service during the restoration process are eligible for assistance through the GLDRF.
Only one application per household unit will be awarded the stipend check.
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.
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:
- 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.
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.