7Investigates: Delayed Merrimack Valley gas disaster claim

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - Thinking about the Merrimack Valley explosions two years ago, Marcia Maglio is brought to tears.

It’s just been very difficult,” says Marcia, who lives in Lawrence. “It was devastating. If I didn’t have a heart attack that day, I never will. It was just horrendous.

Excessive pressure in natural gas lines owned by Columbia Gas caused a series of explosions and fires that killed a teen, damaged more than a hundred buildings and forced 2-thousand families into temporary housing.

“It just was really like a war zone,” says Marcia.

Marcia’s home didn’t suffer any damage. But after the explosion, she had no heat, no electricity, and no hot water or gas for three months.

“We covered the windows with heavy blankets just so that the cold air didn’t come in,” says Marcia. “I mean, all we did was get under the covers and shake and shimmer. We were so so cold. It was horrible.”

When it got too cold, Marcia and her husband stayed with her son for a few weeks. He had no extra rooms so they slept on the floor. She says that hurt her back so badly she had to have surgery.

“I couldn’t even move,” says Marcia.

Like hundreds of other people, Marcia filed a claim against Columbia Gas, hoping to get part of the $143 M the company agreed to pay to compensate victims.

She says she got the paperwork together and filed before the deadline.

But when her neighbors received their checks she was still waiting.

“It’s just been the most frustrating experience of my life,” says Marcia. “The first fellow I talked to said oh your application is still under review. So I waited a week or so and called them back and they said no, they never got anything.”

Marcia says no one could give her any answers, so 7 Investigates put her in touch with state Senator Barry Finegold’s office.

“We’re here to help and at the end of the day, what we really want is for people to get the money that is frankly owed to them for this horrendous gas crisis they all had to live through,” said Senator Finegold.

Senator Finegold has been helping dozens of people who are having trouble with the claims process.

“We want to make sure that the people who were really hurt by this, are getting adequately compensated for it,” said Senator Finegold.

The Senator is having Marcia fill out a late compensation claim, a way to get part of the settlement after the deadline passed. The attorneys in charge of the settlement have still not reached a final decision on whether they will give settlement money to late claimants, but the Senator is hopeful.

“I mean September 13th will be two years and it’s been a nightmare of a road,” said Marcia. “I have faith. I have great faith they are going to take care of it.”

CONTACT YOUR LOCAL LAWMAKER:

Finegold’s office says you can contact them at barryfinegold.com and barry.finegold@masenate.gov with any questions about claims, or you can call (617) 722-1612.

State Representative Frank Moran of Lawrence can be reached at frank.moran@mahouse.gov.

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