Friday, September 28, 2018

Update on Ongoing Recovery Efforts - North Andover/Andover/Lawrence

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency



Friday, September 2, 2018

12:00 PM


Re: Update on Ongoing Recovery Efforts - North Andover/Andover/Lawrence




Gas service remains shutoff to most of the 7,740 gas meters in portions of Lawrence, North Andover, and Andover that are tied to the low pressure gas line that failed on September 13th.  (In the last two days, 68 commercial customers have had service restored by connecting them to other gas lines.)  Most buildings serviced by these meters are without heat and hot water, and gas appliances, including gas stoves and gas dryers, are inoperable.  The target date for full restoration of gas service is November 19, 2018.  Restoration will take place on a rolling basis.


Overview of the restoration process, from Columbia Gas


 Distribution of meters serving residential buildings:

Impacted Residences
North Andover


Map of impacted area:


Map of Impacted Non-Residential Customers



 Repair, Replacement and Restoration Activities


The target date for full restoration of gas service is November 19, 2018.  Restoration will take place on a rolling basis.


Exterior Repair and Replacement Activities


Columbia Gas has announced that approximately 49 miles of below-ground gas pipe needs to be repaired, replaced or bypassed.  Construction work to replace the pipe has already begun.


Number of construction crews scheduled for today: 123

  • Andover: 21
  • Lawrence: 64
  • North Andover: 6
  • Purge crews (all communities): 32


Target for number of construction crews for tomorrow: 123


Progress report:

  • Approximately 6,324 of 301,334 feet of main line pipe have already been replaced
  • Service lines to 43 of 6,100 residential units have already been replaced


Interior Repair, Replacement and Mitigation Activities


  • Distribution of Hot Plates:  On September 22, Columbia Gas began delivering, or making hot plates available to its customers in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.  Customers can pick up hot plates at the three Columbia Gas Claims Centers. 


Through Thursday, September 27th, 7,439 hot plates have been distributed:

    • 5,500 in Lawrence
    • 922 in North Andover
    • 1017 in Andover


All personnel delivering hot plates to customers will be wearing a white identification card issued by Columbia Gas.


Home Assessments:  On Wednesday, September 26, and continuing until approximately October 22nd, teams of licensed plumbers and electricians, and linguists where necessary, will be visiting every impacted residence to do a full electrical and plumbing assessment and determine what appliances need to be replaced or repaired. To the extent possible, repairs will take place during the assessment.  Additionally, a licensed electrician on the team will inspect the electrical service in each home to determine whether, and how many space heaters can be safely used in the premises.  Space heaters will be provided if the home is deemed safe for the use of the devices. Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors will also be installed in the spaces where space heaters will be used. This assessment will help prepare customers to have gas service restored safely. Residents will receive a communication from Columbia Gas to confirm the assessment so they can plan to be home. Assessments will be complete by October 22nd.  All personnel on the assessment teams will be wearing a white identification card issued by Columbia Gas.  Today, 66 teams, staffed by 79 plumbers, 82 electricians, 26 linguists, and 12 inspectors, are conducting assessments.


              To date, over 4300 smoke/carbon monoxide detectors have been installed.


Similar assessments of the 800 impacted businesses began on September 22nd.


  • Installations:  Beginning on September 29th and continuing into November, licensed plumbers and electricians, appliance technicians, and linguists where necessary, will begin visiting impacted residences and businesses to install new gas appliances, such as boilers, furnaces, hot water heaters, stoves and dryers.  All personnel on the installation teams will be wearing a white identification card issued by Columbia Gas.



  • Columbia Gas is finalizing the locations of Customer Care Centers in all three communities. 
  • Yesterday, Columbia Gas mobile customer service vans (one in each community) had 37 customer contacts.
  • Columbia Gas will be holding a Career Fair to hire linguists next Monday from 9-12 PM at Lawrence Valley Works.
  • The National Guard missions related to the distribution of hot plates and space heaters is ending today, and the Guard is demobilizing.
  • Today, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito joined Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera, North Andover Town Manager Andrew Maylor and Andover Town Manager Andrew Flanagan to announce a $1,000,000 emergency loan fund for businesses directly impacted by the recent gas explosions in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.  The fund will offer emergency loans to eligible businesses with no payments and no interest for the first six months. For businesses that extend beyond a six month period, market rates will apply and loans will be able to be extended or restructured for multi-year term loans. The fund will open October 1 and have an expedited application and approval process, with the goal of getting all applications processed within 24 and 48 hours.  For more information, including information on eligibility and the application process, see:


Key Columbia Gas Phone Numbers

  • Customer Service Hotline for Affected Customers:  866-388-3239
  • Property Claims Number:  800-590-5571
  • Support for Affected Businesses: 603-231-7044
  • Hotel Placement by Columbia: 866-294-9226
  • To schedule delivery of hot plates and space heaters: 855-218-8816
  • Emergency number: 888-525-8222

More information from Columbia Gas is available at:


Safety Information for People in Buildings Without Gas Service

  • If you smell gas or smoke, notice damage to gas appliances, or other potential emergency situations, step outside and call 9-1-1.
  • If you need non-emergency assistance, please call 2-1-1. 
  • Do not attempt to use any gas appliances until gas service has been safely restored by the gas company.
  • If your gas meter has been shut off by either the gas company or you, DO NOT attempt to turn your service back on yourself. Please contact the gas company for assistance; they will send a technician to turn it back on.
  • If you smell an odor of natural gas,
    • Leave the building immediately and move to a safe location
    • Call 911 from outside the building and call the Columbia Gas emergency number at 1-800-525-8222.
    • Do not turn off gas to your house or to any appliances.
    • Do not try to find the leak yourself or operate pipeline valves.
    • Do not touch light switches or use any appliances that could cause a spark, including telephones.
    • Do not light matches or candles.
  • If you use a grill to cook, place it at least 10 feet away from your home or anything that can burn. Grills should not be used on porches or inside homes.
  • Use extension cords safely. Do not overload them and always plug heavy-duty appliances, such as air conditioners and space heaters, directly into wall outlets.
  • Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are working. The battery backup in plug-in or hardwired alarms may need to be replaced after the extended power outage.
  • Be a good neighbor.  Check on family. Friends, neighbors, especially the elderly, those who live along, those with medical conditions, and those who may need additional assistance. 


Recovery Assistance:

Residents of impacted homes may access social, health, government and community services by calling 2-1-1.  Trained 2-1-1 operators will conduct a brief intake and connect callers to government, non-profit and private sector agencies and organizations in the Greater Lawrence area  that can address their needs.


Total number of calls to 2-1-1 through September 26th regarding the gas emergency in Greater Lawrence: 5,317

Total number of visits to 2-1-1’s website through September 26th: 1146.


Columbia Gas has established the following phone number for people who need immediate emergency housing assistance from Columbia as a result of the gas incident on September 13th:  866-294-9226.  There are no emergency shelters operating at this time.  As of 9/27, Columbia Gas has placed 274 families (798 people) in area hotels.


Columbia Gas is operating a call center for impacted customers.  The phone number of the call center is:  866-388-3239.  Yesterday, the Call Center received 2179 calls.


Columbia Gas Claims Centers:

Customers who have been impacted by the gas emergency can file claims at Columbia Claims Centers in the three communities, or by calling 1-800-590-5571.  Columbia Gas will compensate its customers for all losses reasonably related to this incident, including, among others, losses in the following categories: 1) bodily injury; 2) damage to property; 3) disruption of businesses; 4) inconvenience and disruption of everyday activities caused by loss of use of gas service due to this event; 5) reasonable efforts to limit or mitigate the loss.

Columbia Gas will reimburse customers for reasonable costs of permanently switching to an alternative fuel source (e.g. electric or oil) for appliances or systems that were fueled by natural gas prior to the outage.  If you wish to temporarily switch to appliances and systems that are fueled by sources other than natural gas for the duration of the outage, and then return to gas-fueled appliances, Columbia Gas will reimburse for reasonable costs associated with both the temporary solution as well as the return to gas-fueled appliances and systems.


Customers may elect to contract directly with an appropriate certified licensed contractor to install appliances and systems that are fueled by an alternative fuel source (e.g. electric or oil).  If you do hire such a contractor, Columbia Gas requests that the licensed contractor provide you detailed receipts, including your name, service address, make/model of parts, and labor, so that Columbia Gas may reimburse you for reasonable costs.


Claims Center locations:

  • Lawrence: Property Claims Center at 439 S. Union Street, Lawrence.
  • Andover: Property Claims Center, Old Town Hall, 20 Main Street, Andover.
  • North Andover: Property Claims Center, First & Main Plaza (adjacent to CVS), 115 Main Street, North Andover.


Information about the claims process is available at:


Disaster Fund:

In response to the overwhelming needs facing those affected, Governor Charlie Baker has announced the establishment of the Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund through Essex County Community Foundation. Donations to the Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund can be made at  To date, Columbia Gas has committed $10 Million to this fund. 


Community Information

City of Lawrence:


Town of Andover:

  • For information from Andover, please visit
  • Hot showers are available at Pomp’s Pond, 147 Abbot Street.  There also is a shower for people with mobility impairments at the Andover Senior Center, 30 Whittier Court.


Town of North Andover:


Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC)

Utilizing the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), the States of New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and New York have entered into agreements with MEMA to deploy state pipeline inspectors to Massachusetts to support the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities in its work inspecting the pipeline construction in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.