Evacuated residents return home after Merrimack Valley gas line disaster

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - Residents from Andover, North Andover and Lawrence are now cleared to return to their homes following the Merrimack Valley gas line disaster.

As of 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning, all 8,570 impacted gas meters were checked and cleared by gas utility officials and electricity was restored in the area, allowing thousands to return to their homes, according to Gov. Charlie Baker.

Baker, along with Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera and other local officials, held a press conference Sunday morning to report that “phase one” of their recovery efforts were nearly complete.

“We still have a very long way to go,” he said. “But, we are very happy people can return to their homes this morning.”

Electricity was restored to a majority of homes and full power will be restored later in the morning.

Gas will take much longer to restore as experts assess the damage to the system and a lengthy inspection process begins.

Residents are asked not to turn on gas meters on their own, and to report any damage that may have been done to gas-run appliances.

A representative of Eversource energy emphasized that the safety of everyone involved was paramount.

Eversource promised that they would work with the NTSB as an industry to make sure that something like this never happens again.

“People have been very generous,” an emotional Rivera said. “The fact that we were able to raise $100,000 in two days is heartwarming.”

A Recovery Resource Center will open at 1 p.m. at the Arlington Middle School at 150 Arlington St. in Lawrence. It will be staffed by representatives of local and state agencies and will provide services to the Merrimack Valley residents impacted by the gas leaks.

 

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)