FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Town of Andover Provides Update on Restoration Process Following 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.
Update to Restoration Timeline
Earlier this week, Columbia Gas announced it would not meet its Nov. 19 goal for full service restoration.
Town Manager Andrew Flanagan issued a statement on the delay and the ongoing recovery effort, which can be read in full here.
“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,” Town Manager Flanagan said.
The “House Ready” process is expected to be completed between Dec. 2 and Dec. 16, and a Rapid Re-light process has been implemented that will result in gas service being restored ahead of Dec. 2.
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.
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.
Nearly 850 Andover residents had obtained alternate housing arrangements as of the end of the day on Oct. 24.
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.
Open Houses and Executive Q&A’s With Columbia Gas
Columbia Gas hosted a series of open house community meetings on Saturday, Oct. 27 in Andover, Lawrence, and North Andover as part of its ongoing engagement with communities affected by the Sept. 13 incident.
Each open house featured various information stations with Columbia Gas representatives who were available to answer questions on topics including the claims process, alternate housing solutions, in-home assessments and installations, home and business re-lights, construction, billing, energy efficiency and gas safety. In addition, NiSource, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Joe Hamrock, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts President Steve Bryant, Chief Recovery Officer Joe Albanese and Chief Restoration Officer for Columbia Gas Pablo Vegas visited each of the open house sessions to speak with members of the community and conduct a Q&A session on the project status. Local elected officials for each of the communities were also present.
Disaster Relief Fund Application Deadline
Essex County Community Foundation announced 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
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.
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, over 4,500 claims have been submitted to Columbia Gas by Andover residents and businesses. Columbia Gas has paid out over $9.3 million to settle Andover-based claims.
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.
Over 43 miles of main line pipe have been replaced so far, according to Columbia Gas.
There are 53 construction crews working in Andover today, with 45 scheduled for tomorrow and Monday. Columbia Gas has not announced how many are scheduled Sunday
“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 noon-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