Plumbers sought, 20,000 Thanksgiving meals planned as gas restoration efforts continue in Merrimack Valley

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - Efforts to restore gas to thousands of residents in the Merrimack Valley following September’s disastrous series of explosions and fires are expected to be completed before Christmas, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday.

Gas service will be fully restored to homes in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover no later than Dec. 16, according to Columbia Gas.

The initial targeted completion date of Nov. 19 was pushed back in late October after Baker called efforts “painful, frustrating and inconvenient.”

While repairs are well underway, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera is pleading for plumbers to come forward and assist with the process.

“The pace at which we’re getting plumbers is a problem,” he said. “Massachusetts has 22,000 licensed plumbers. We haven’t been able to get over 600.”

Rivera said 20,000 Thanksgiving meals will be provided for those who were displaced on Sept. 13 when more than 130 structures and five homes were damaged or destroyed in the disaster.

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.

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