FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, Nov. 23, 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 the Merrimack Valley Gas Emergency.
TOMORROW: Small Business Saturday to Feature Family-Friendly Activities
On Saturday, Nov. 24, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., everyone is encouraged to visit downtown Andover 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.
A 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, motorcycle and a special SWAT vehicle courtesy of the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council — 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.
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).
Restoration Timeline and Claims
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 Friday afternoon, Columbia Gas reports that 90 percent of business and 80 percent of residential gas customers in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence have had their gas service restored. A total of 84 percent of Andover residents and 91 percent of business customers who lost gas service have 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. 23.
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.
Columbia Gas has received nearly 5,000 claims from Andover residents and business owners and has paid out $21.41 million to Andover gas customers as of Friday.
Save the Date: Holiday Happenings Dec. 7
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.
Festivities will take place throughout Main Street and the Park at Town Hall. The Park will host food vendors, a carousel ride, entertainment and the tree lighting. This year, additional activities will take place on Main Street including photos with Santa at Old Town Hall, carnival rides, live music coordinated by the Free Christian Church, Roaming Railroad train rides, a holiday stilt walker, along with shopping and dining at many downtown shops and restaurants.
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.
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.
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.
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 containing extensive information that was sent to customers, click here.
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.
As of Friday, 557 Andover residents (Up from 541 on Wednesday) were being lodged in alternate housing arrangements, including apartments, hotels and RVs.
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.
“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 adjusters, 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