State officials caution gas disaster victims: ‘be careful who you trust’

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - Work scheduled to vent gas lines in the Merrimack Valley was postponed Tuesday due to rain, but one local business continued doing important work indoors.

What this Lawrence pharmacy is dispensing, they hope will make a longtime customer feel better.

“I know she’s displaced right now, so we wanted to do something that would be beneficial now and in the future,” said Kelly Garon, of Packard Pharmacy.

When a home on Chickering Road exploded Sept. 13, killing Leonel Rondon in the driveway and hurting three members of the Figueroa family in and outside of it, Packard Pharmacy employees were devastated because Omayra Figueroa was well-known to them.

“She’s been a customer here for over 20 years,” Garon said. “We’ve watched the children grow up. We just wanted to do something.”

So, in the hopes of helping out, they’ve posted a picture of the now-leveled home and are asking people to donate money or gift cards for this family.

“I just figured food, whether it’s a restaurant, or grocery gift card, clothing, down-the-line furniture. Just everything. They lost everything,” Garon said.

As this business lends a hand, Lawrence’s mayor and the state’s attorney general are reminding other gas victims in the Merrimack Valley to be careful who they trust during this trying time.

“It does provide an opportunity for those that want to exploit existing vulnerabilities and if it at the expense of that tragedy,” Attorney General Maura Healey said.

So they have offered these tips to homeowners looking for attorneys or home improvement help:

– Make sure the lawyer is licensed
– Understand all documents you sign and keep copies of them
– Check consumer reviews on contractors
– Don’t let people into your home without an ID

The staff at Packard Pharmacy say they just want to help heal.

“She’s loyal to us as a pharmacy and we want to show our gratitude for all her years of loyalty by giving back in any way we can,” Garon said.

Those with questions and concerns can contact the Attorney General’s new hotline at 617-573-5370 in order to connect with specialists in the office who are able to handle questions about legal representation, home improvement scams, and insurance claims from homeowners, renters, and local businesses.

On Thursday, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Lawrence High School, there will be a forum to discuss options available to those affected by the gas disaster.

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