Merrimack Valley gas disaster relief fund: How to apply for financial assistance

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - A relief fund that was established to assist those impacted by last month’s Merrimack Valley gas explosions and fires will begin accepting financial aid applications Wednesday.

The Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund plans to distribute $10.85 million to provide short-term assistance for things like shelter, food and health services to thousands of residents in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.

Columbia Gas customers in those areas have been without gas since Sept. 13 and are not expected have service restored until Nov. 19.

“The rollout of these dollars is a big step in recovery for our community,” Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera said via the State House News Service. “The release of these funds will put cash directly in hands of the neediest families affected by this disaster. These funds will help those affected directly and catastrophically start to rebuild their lives.”

If necessary, all financial aid applicants will be offered additional support services, according to the Essex County Community Foundation.

Affected residents can apply for assistance from the fund online at, by phone by dialing 2-1-1 or in person at one of three drop-in application centers located at Andover’s Old Town Hall at 20 Main St., Relief’s In at 1 Market St. in Lawrence, and First and Main Plaza at 115 Main St. in North Andover.

All applicants will be notified of their application status within three to five business days, according to officials.

Click here for more information on the fund.

Click here to donate to the fund.

(Copyright (c) 2020 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)