Official: Gas restoration efforts in Merrimack Valley to stretch into December

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - Efforts to restore gas to thousands of residents in the Merrimack Valley following September’s disastrous series of explosions and fires will now stretch into December, officials announced Friday.

Columbia Gas project manager Joe Albanese said at a press conference that residents should expect to have gas service fully restored to their homes as early Dec. 2 and no later than Dec. 16 after initially promising to have the work completed by Nov. 19.

“We understand the urgency you all have to return home and reopen your businesses. It’s cold outside. The hardship and inconvenience created by this incident is more than just disruptive and devastating,” said Albanese.

Gov. Charlie Baker said that restoration efforts, which began in early October, have been “painful, frustrating and inconvenient.”

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera added that his city was “still a disaster area.”

Albanese said utility crews are working around the clock and that some residents will have heat and hot water restored before December.

More than 130 structures and five homes in neighborhoods in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover were damaged or destroyed by fires and explosions on Sept. 13.

The pressure in natural gas pipelines was said 12 times higher than it should have been at the time of the blasts.

One person was killed and 25 others were injured.

As winter nears, Baker urged residents to consider taking advantage of temporary housing that is being offered.

“As these challenges persist, we all know the temperatures are dropping,” he said.

Columbia Gas is footing the bill for hotel rooms, apartments, travel trailers, and warming shelters for residents until gas service is fully restored.

 

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