Columbia Gas explosions, fires leaving lasting impact on Merrimack Valley businesses

ANDOVER, MASS. (WHDH) - Business owners in three Merrimack Valley communities are feeling the impacts of the Columbia Gas explosions and fires.

On Main Street in Andover, 100 businesses including 67 restaurants remain closed.

“There’s no gas so they don’t have the ability to cook,” Andover Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said. “They have no hot water so they have no ability to dish wash, glass wash.”

Gov. Charlie Baker met with the town’s business owners Wednesday to hear their concerns.

“Most of those businesses weren’t talking so much about themselves they were talking about their employees and their ability to hold on to their staff and make sure people have the ability to get paid even if the business can’t operate,” he said. “I think from our point of view, that is fundamentally what this is ultimately all about.”

With so many restaurants and establishments closed, foot traffic and general activity is reduced. This is hurting other businesses such as Mini Emporim, a shop owned by Gia Cyrier.

“The impact to retail is huge, especially in New England in September,” she said. “Thursday, Friday, Saturday and this time of year is huge and it can decimate a business.”

There is no hard figures on how big the business financial losses are but Baker promised to do what he can to help. He says Columbia Gas will be a part of that equation.

“The assumption at this point is the assessment mitigation and rebuild is on Columbia,” he said. “I mean, they’re gonna pay for it.”

Flanagan is urging business owners, along with residents, to head down to the Andover Columbia Gas claims center located at the old town hall on 20 Main St.

(Copyright (c) 2018 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)