FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, Oct. 19, 2018
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Town of Andover Provides Update on Restoration and Recovery from Gas Emergency
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 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. 19 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 34 miles of main pipelines have been replaced so far. A total of 65 construction crews are working in Andover today, with 65 crews expected on Saturday, 35 expected on Sunday and 65 expected on Monday. As of Friday afternoon, 2,896 affected service lines in the three communities have been deemed gas ready.
Columbia Gas produces a schedule where teams will begin work over the next 72 hours. To view the schedule click here.
North Main Street Bridge Replacement
While not related to the gas emergency, residents should be aware that work will be taking place this weekend to replace the North Main Street (Route 28) bridge that crosses the railroad tracks.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has announced that on Oct. 27-28 the MBTA’s Haverhill Commuter Rail Line will be bused between Ballardvale and Haverhill Stations. Shuttle buses serving all stations between those stations on or very close to the train schedule (minor delays).
Buses will stop at the stations as follows:
- Andover: At the pickup/drop-off on Railroad St. at the Essex St. end of the platform
- Lawrence: In the busway
- Bradford: In the parking lot on the inbound side
- Haverhill: in the parking lot on the inbound side
Amtrak Downeaster service will be bused between Haverhill and Boston and will not be serving Anderson/Woburn station. Regular commuter rail service will resume at the start of service on Monday, Oct. 29.
Temporary Heating Update
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 Wednesday, 615 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 are:
- 439 South Union Street, Lawrence, MA: Construction Operations Manager Derrick Seitz
- 45 Main St., Andover, MA: Construction Operations Manager Jeff McCaples
- 115 South Main Street, North Andover, MA: Construction Operations Manager Charlie Romano
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
Andover residents and businesses have submitted 4,407 claims to Columbia Gas, so far.
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
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.
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.
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.