FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, Oct. 26, 2018
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Response from Andover Town Manager Andrew P. Flanagan Regarding Restoration Deadlines
ANDOVER — Town Manager Andrew P. Flanagan participated in a briefing today with the leaders of North Andover and Lawrence as well as state leaders and Columbia Gas officials. The following is a statement from Town Manager Flanagan in response to today’s news about the change in restoration date goals:
“Today, something we feared was confirmed by Columbia Gas; that the plan rolled out more than a month ago to make our residents and businesses whole again will not meet its Nov. 19 goal. Thousands of residents and business owners in the Merrimack Valley remain without heat and hot water as temperatures quickly begin to drop and a cold, windy nor’easter bears down on New England this weekend.
“My primary focus as Town Manager is to ensure that people and businesses get their heat and hot water turned back on as quickly and safely as possible. After listening and engaging in discussions with Governor Baker’s office, the Commonwealth’s head of inspectional services, public safety officials and Chief Recovery Officer Joe Albanese, I am sufficiently convinced that the best course of action is a ‘Rapid Re-Light’ process, which will affect repairs to boilers and furnaces immediately so that people can feel safe and warm in their homes.
“We have learned that a licensed plumber can repair a boiler or furnace in about three hours, whereby it takes 3-4 days for the safe replacement of a heating unit under modern safety code standards. The Rapid Re-light process will get the heat and hot water turned back on safetly, under the watchful eye of local inspectors.
“I emphasize that ALL boilers, furnaces, hot water headers, dryers, and gas stoves will will be replaced with new units in the coming months. However, we must do something in the interim to ensure the health and safety of our residents, who have been without heat and hot water for more than five weeks now.
“I am pleased that Columbia Gas/NiSource has dramatically increased the number of plumbers it has under contract. The ramp-up of staffing and Rapid Re-light process will ensure that many residents will still have gas service restored by the original target date in November. We also expect new stoves and dryers to be installed by mid-December.
“To reiterate, I expect the “house ready” process to be completed between December 2 and December 16. This means that hot water heaters, stoves and dryers will be replaced and boilers and furnaces will be safely repaired or replaced with those being repaired eventually being replaced beginning in the spring. Based on today’s announcement, it is the expectation that heat and gas will be restored in advance of December 2 as a result of the Rapid Re-light process.
“Today’s news no doubt leaves many people frustrated and adds many new questions to an already complex crisis. I share in your frustration, and it is my job to ask the vital questions every day until everyone has answers.
“This is an unprecedented crisis. Andover’s town officials will remain at the table every day until every pipe, meter and appliance is fixed; every driveway, lawn and street repaired; and every home and business made whole again. The people of the Merrimack Valley are victims who did nothing but pay their gas bills and put their faith and trust in a utility company.
“I am pleased to report that the gas main replacement project is nearly completed and will beat the Nov. 19 goal by nearly three and a half weeks. The construction crews are to be commended for their hard work. But now we must turn all efforts toward making the necessary repairs and complete the needed installations that will restore normalcy to the people who depend on those gas mains every day.”