UPDATE #70 (4:30 p.m.) Town of Andover Provides Update on Restoration Process Following Gas Emergency

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, Nov. 14, 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 the Merrimack Valley Gas Emergency.

U.S. and Massachusetts Senates to Hold Hearings on Gas Disaster

On Nov. 26, the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, led by Sen. Edward J. Markey, will be holding a field hearing in Lawrence to demand answers for the affected communities and hold those responsible to account.

Markey has invited members of the Merrimack Valley community to share how they’ve been impacted by the gas emergency. To submit stories to the congressional record ahead of the hearing, click here.

The Massachusetts Senate has scheduled two oversight hearings of its own next month. The first hearing will be held on Dec. 4 in Boston, while the second will be held in the Merrimack Valley on Dec. 17.

Residents Invited to Small Business Saturday Event

On Saturday, Nov. 24, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Andover residents are encouraged to visit downtown for a family-friendly Small Business Saturday event, which will include an opportunity for residents of all ages to explore a variety of town-owned vehicles and equipment. 

The Touch-A-Truck event will take place at Old Town Hall and will feature vehicles from the Andover Police and Fire Departments — including a police cruiser and motorcycle — as well as Department of Public Works equipment, like a dump truck and a backhoe.

The event will also feature a limited supply of free giveaways celebrating the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Small Business Saturday is part of an ongoing, multi-faceted effort by the town to support businesses impacted by the gas crisis.

Last Wednesday, a group of town officials, high school students and public relations students from a Northeastern University School of Journalism public relations class took to downtown Andover, visiting more than 30 town businesses and Tweeting with the hashtags   .

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.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 66 percent of Andover residential customers who lost gas service have had their service restored.

Also as of Wednesday afternoon, 79 percent of commercial gas customers in the affected area have now had their service restored.

Columbia Gas releases a daily briefing with updates on the progress of the restoration effort. Click here to read the briefing for Nov. 14.

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.

Appliance Disposal

The disposal of condemned or replaced appliances is part of the recovery and restoration process. Your appliances will be removed and picked up by Columbia Gas or its contractors. Residents and business owners should not endure any cost for disposing of appliances.

Free Parking Downtown

The Town of Andover will not collect parking fees at municipal parking lots through Dec. 30. 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).

Information for Landlords and Tenants

Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has released information for landlords and tenants affected by the Merrimack Valley Gas Emergency, which can be viewed in full here. 

As a first step, the Attorney General’s Office encourages landlords and tenants to discuss the situation and work cooperatively to try to resolve issues. Landlords and tenants should discuss what claims each can make with Columbia Gas. For example, landlords should file claims for lost rent with Columbia Gas. Neither landlords nor tenants should suffer any financial loss. Columbia Gas is responsible for all losses caused by the gas explosions.

Tenants and landlords should be aware of their rights, duties, and protections under Massachusetts law. Tenants or landlords who are having problems can call the Attorney General’s Merrimack Valley Hotline at 617-573-5370 for help. Affected residents can request temporary alternative housing by calling Columbia Gas at 1-800-590-5571.

Self Mitigation Information

Columbia Gas has provided information on how residents can expedite the gas disaster mitigation process on their own.

For those who decide to go about repairing or replacing their own appliances, there are several steps that the utility has provided for residents interested in doing so.

To read the Columbia Gas mailer being sent to customers in full, click here.

The steps for self mitigation and restoration outlined in the mailer are:

  • Contact Columbia Gas and make the claims adjuster assigned to your case aware of your intention to self mitigate. Adjusters will walk residents and business owners through the process, including briefing them on the information they’ll need for later reimbursement. The Columbia Gas claims phone number is 1-800-590-5571.
  • Hire only licensed installers, who must obtain appropriate permits from the Town of Andover in order to complete the work. Work may include pressure testing, repair and replacement of gas lines, extension of outside gas lines, installation of appliances and completion of a town inspection. Once all of that work is completed, gas service may be restored to individual homes.
  • Work with a claims adjuster to purchase replacement equipment and appliances. Columbia Gas will reimburse customers for reasonable replacement costs of like kind and quality appliances, including making payments on their behalf or paying customers back for out-of-pocket costs.
  • Install equipment and appliances, and complete inspection. Once installation is complete, licensed installers will arrange a town inspection. Only work that has been appropriately permitted prior to completion will be eligible for an inspection.
  • Contact Columbia Gas for service restoration. Once inspections are complete, customers will receive either a green “house ready” tag, or an orange “house ready” tag depending on a home’s level of readiness for service restoration. To have service restored following self mitigation work, call 1-866-388-3239.