UPDATE #56 (4:50 p.m.) Town of Andover Provides Update on Restoration Process Following Gas Emergency

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018

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

 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.

Save the Date: Holiday Happenings

Andover will celebrate its annual Holiday Happenings event on Friday, Dec. 7 from 4-8 p.m.. The event will feature a variety of activities, including photos with Santa, carnival and train rides, shopping, dining, fireworks and more.

The event will be held across a variety of locations throughout downtown, including Old Town Hall, Memorial Hall Library, Andover Historical Society, Center at Punchard and the park at Chesnut and Bartlet Street.

First Fridays Series Debuts This Week

A new monthly event that will take place in Downtown Andover on a monthly basis beginning tomorrow.

Downtown Andover’s First Fridays will kick off on Friday, Nov. 2 at Old Town Hall/Town House, 20 Main St., from 6 – 8 PM.

Andover’s First Fridays are a free, family friendly event that will showcase local music, arts, culture, non- profits, and beyond!  Downtown Andover is rich with shopping, dining and service destinations. Head down for dinner and shopping before or after the event and check out all that Andover has to offer.

U.S. Attorney Investigating Gas Emergency

The United States Attorney’s Office has opened a criminal investigation into Columbia Gas and its parent company, NiSource, in connection with the Merrimack Valley Gas Emergency that began on Sept. 13.

Update to Restoration Timeline

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.

The main pipeline has been fully replaced.

Columbia Gas releases a daily briefing with updates on the progress of the restoration effort. Click here to read the briefing for Nov. 1.

Columbia Gas met with state and municipal plumbing inspectors to map out the process for the rapid Re-light. More than 200 additional plumbers have been added to support the effort.

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.

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 720 Andover residents had obtained alternate housing arrangements as of the end of the day on Oct. 31.

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 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.

Claims Center 

The Andover Claims Center is located at 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 4,600 claims have been submitted to Columbia Gas by Andover residents and businesses. Columbia Gas has paid out over $12.9 million to settle Andover-based claims.

“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