FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Town of Andover Provides Update on Restoration Process, Announces Halloween Plans
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, as well as its plans for Halloween activities later this month.
Official hours for Trick-or-Treating are 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 31. All safety precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of the children and families out walking on Halloween.
“It has been along autumn for our residents already, and I think our children deserve to have their Halloween festivities,” Town Manager Flanagan said. “We are in constant contact with Columbia Gas to ensure that construction vehicles and crews will not interfere with the festivities and that the vital restoration work will not be affected either.”
Columbia Gas has an interactive map that tracks the progress of the restoration effort. The map will give residents and business owners a real-time look at the local recovery process in their individual neighborhoods and help the gauge when crews will be on their streets to conduct assessments.
Columbia Gas releases a daily briefing updating the restoration process. Click here to read the Oct. 16 briefing. The company has informed town officials that it is actively working to follow-up directly with vulnerable or at-risk residents to ensure their safety as the weather gets colder.
Over 30 miles of main pipelines have been replaced so far. A total of 62 construction crews are working in Andover today, with 66 crews expected on Thursday and 62 on Friday and Saturday.
Columbia Gas produces a schedule where teams will begin work over the next 72 hours. To view the schedule click here.
Temporary Heating Update
Columbia Gas announced today that it no longer intends to collect temporary heating sources it had distributed to residents during the recovery process. Residents will be allowed to keep any temporary heating sources they received, but may request to have any such items removed upon completion of restoration work.
Residents who chose to purchase their own temporary solutions for heating only may be reimbursed through the Columbia Gas claims process.
If a residential customer wishes to temporarily switch to appliances and systems that are fueled by sources other than natural gas for the duration of the service outage, and then return to natural gas-fueled appliances, Columbia Gas will reimburse them for reasonable costs associated with both the temporary solution as well as the return to natural gas-fueled appliances and systems.
Impacted Columbia Gas customers who choose to be placed in alternative housing while their homes are without gas should call Columbia Gas’ Claims line: 800-590-5571.
Transportation arrangements will be provided for residents staying in hotels and apartments who do not have their own means of transportation.
With temperatures beginning to drop on a more consistent basis, a congregate shelter has been established for those in need. It is capable of hosting up to 1,000 people and will have hot meals available. The shelter is located at 46 Stafford St., Lawrence.
The congregate shelter has been established as a warming center with showers, and can accommodate residents for short-term overnight stays.
As of the end of the day Monday, 586 Andover residents were living in alternative housing.
For additional information and slides, see: Greater Lawrence Housing Options
‘House Ready’ and Assessment Process Updates
All gas customers will need an assessment of their homes, including gas lines and appliances. Crews wearing identification continue to fan out across neighborhoods. The interactive map will alert residents about when they can expect an assessment crew.
In many cases, this process will take more than one day. Customers whose streets are listed must have someone over 18 years old at home on the listed day in order for work to commence. If an adult cannot be home on that day, crews will be back in the same neighborhood in the following days.
When possible, Columbia Gas is replacing gas-fired appliances immediately. The company has thousands of boilers, water heaters, clothes dryers and ranges in stock and more on order.
For additional information on this process, please visit: https://www.columbiagas.com/massachusetts/restoration
Andover is deploying town resources each day to support the assessment effort and assist residents.
“Back to Business”
Columbia Gas has developed an integrated process to quickly restore business customers. The “Back-to-Business” initiative will assign a project manager to each business owner who will be responsible for addressing the businesses’ unique needs in order to make the business ready to receive natural gas. The project managers will proactively reach out to business owners to introduce themselves and will begin visiting businesses in the coming days.
Back to Business Centers
Under the direction of each project manager will be a fully integrated team including claims adjustors, plumbers, laborers and electricians to quickly restore business customers.
The “Back-to-Business” initiative’s integrated teams will work out of three business centers, located in each of the affected communities. These centers will serve as the operation center for construction operations managers, claims representatives and linguists, and will work to build customized plans for each business based on their assessed needs. While business owners will be hearing from their project manager proactively, these centers are open to the public should business owners choose to visit them during the claims and recovery process.
The locations of the “Back-to-Business” Centers, which will be open beginning Thursday, October 18 at noon, are:
- 439 South Union Street, Lawrence, MA: Construction Operations Manager Derrick Seitz
- 45 Main Street, Andover, MA: Construction Operations Manager Jeff McCaples
- 115 South Main Street, North Andover, MA: Construction Operations Manager Charlie Romano
Starting on Thursday, October 18, the centers will be open from Tuesday to Friday from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
To view businesses in Andover that are located in the affected and are currently open for business visit: www.andoverma.gov/andoverbiz
Tax Extension for Merrimack Valley
The Department of Revenue is waiving all penalties associated with late-filed tax returns or payments that were due on or after Sept. 12 and before Nov. 1.
If any taxpayer in the affected areas receives a penalty for this period they should call 617-887-6367.
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.
Relief Fund and Claims Center
To determine your eligibility and apply for assistance through the Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund, you can do so through the following means:
1. Online at www.GLDRF.org
2. Over the phone by dialing 2-1-1, for those who cannot apply online
3. In person for anyone in need of assistance at Andover’s drop-in center.
GLDRF Hours Next Week:
Old Town Hall – 20 Main Street, Andover
Thursday, Oct. 18: 4-6 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 19: 4-6 p.m.
While residents and businesses are encouraged to apply online, they will be notified within three to five business days regarding the status of their application regardless of which method they use to apply for assistance.
The Claims Center will be open Monday through Friday, noon to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Halloween Safety Tips
With a sharp increase in foot traffic, motorists are urged to exercise extreme caution on Halloween. Speeding and traffic regulations will be vigorously enforced. The Andover Police Department will have increased patrols in town all evening to help ensure safety.
Guidelines for Trick-or-Treaters
- Only approach well-lit houses and always travel in small groups
- Wear clothing that is bright, reflective and flame retardant
- Use flashlights for guidance on sidewalks, walkways and when crossing the street
- Make sure masks have eye-holes large enough to see any tripping hazards or oncoming traffic, and mouth openings large enough to breathe easily
- Practice safe street-crossing by using crosswalks and walk signals
- Wear sturdy shoes and temperature appropriate clothing under costumes
Guidelines for Parents and Guardians
- Supervise children under 12 years old
- Establish a designated curfew for older children
- Make sure children are wearing safe costumes that fit well and don’t drag on the ground
- Apply reflective tape to your child’s arms, legs and treat bags
- Assure costume accessories such as swords and other pointed objects are made with soft and safe materials
Guidelines for Residents
- Keep inside and outside lights on during trick-or-treat hours
- Avoid placing lit candles and jack-o-lanterns on doorsteps and walkways where costumes could brush against them and cause burns or fire
- Only hand out candy that is packaged and wrapped
- Avoid handing out small toys that could cause choking for small children
Any suspicious activity should be reported to Andover Police by dialing 911 or calling 978-475-0411.