UPDATE #48 (6 p.m.) Town of Andover Provides Update on Restoration Process Following Gas Emergency

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, Oct. 22, 2018

Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 617-993-0003

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.

Alternative Housing 

Andover residents still have the option to seek free alternative housing while their gas service remains offline. Housing options include apartments, hotels and temporary trailers, and are completely paid for by Columbia Gas.

Over 600 Andover residents are currently housed in alternative living arrangements.

“The weather is getting colder, and I hope residents who are without heat will take advantage of the opportunity to find alternative living arrangements while the work is done to restore gas service,” Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said. “I understand that living away from home can be difficult, but nobody should have to endure sub-freezing temperatures in their homes.”

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.

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.

Disaster Relief Fund Application Deadline

Essex County Community Foundation announced today that the application deadline for support from its Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund is Nov. 5.

All eligible residents and businesses impacted by the Sept. 13 Columbia Gas fires in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover must file an application by that date to ensure they receive the current $550 stipend gift – and any future gift – being granted by the Fund. If you lost gas service as a result of the crisis, and it was not restored by Oct. 1, you may be eligible to apply.

The easiest way to apply is still online at www.GLDRF.org. Applications are also being accepted by calling 211 and by visiting an application drop-in center, though locations and drop-in center hours have changed, effective Oct. 22 – Nov. 9:

Hours and Locations for application drop-in centers for Oct. 22-Nov. 9

Andover/North Andover YMCA

165 Haverhill St., Andover

978-519-0113

Monday: 4-6 p.m.

Tuesday: 4-6 p.m.

Wednesday: 4-6 p.m.

Thursday: 4-6 p.m.

Friday: 4-6 p.m.

* New applications will not be accepted after Nov. 5.

Business Community Meeting and Resource Session

A coalition of stakeholders will be hosting a community meeting and resource session on Tuesday, October 23rd, at 6 PM at Lawrence High School, 70 – 71 N Parish Rd, Lawrence, MA to support small businesses impacted by the recent gas emergencies.

This coalition—which includes representation from NiSource/Columbia Gas; the Municipalities of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover; the Commonwealth of Mass; and local non-profit service providers—is collaborating to provide a comprehensive scope of services for small businesses, targeting immediate as well as long-term needs.

Beyond simply sharing information about these services, scores of providers will be on hand to support businesses with one on one questions and provide support around:

  1. Accessing emergency capital
  2. Making claims and following up on existing claims
  3. Scheduling upgrades to impacted equipment and facilities
  4. Getting updated information on when gas is scheduled to be turned on, by address
  5. Working one on one with business service experts around customized business needs
  6. Ensuring your business is up to code and able to re-open

This event is open to all affected businesses, with a specific concentration on smaller businesses impacted by the recent gas emergencies in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.  All services will be offered in both English and Spanish.

Scam Warning 

Residents should be aware that Columbia Gas has received reports of scams involving fake notes left for residents claiming to be left by the utility.

Claims Center Location Change 

The Andover Claims Center has moved to 45 Main St. (the former location of Greater Boston Running Company). The Claims Center is open Monday through Friday, noon to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

So far, almost 4,500 claims have been submitted to Columbia Gas by Andover residents and businesses. Columbia Gas has paid out over $8.08 million to settle Andover-based claims.

Construction Progress

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 provides a daily briefing that summarizes the restoration process. Click here to read today’s briefing.

Thirty-eight miles of main line pipe have been replaced so far, according to Columbia Gas.

There are 67 construction crews working in Andover today, with 67 scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday.

“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 St., Lawrence: Construction Operations Manager Derrick Seitz
  • 45 Main St., Andover: Construction Operations Manager Jeff McCaples
  • 115 South Main St., North Andover: Construction Operations Manager Charlie Romano

The centers will be open from Tuesday to Friday from 12pm to 8pm 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 

Halloween

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.

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