Greater Lawrence Gas Emergency Updates

Updates on the September 13th, 2018 gas line emergency that impacted Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.

Table of Contents

Situation

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.  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 restoration of gas service is by November 19, 2018.  Restoration will take place on a rolling basis.

Additional Resources

Restoration Process

The restoration process includes Making Your Home or Business "Gas Ready", Making Your Home or Business "House Ready" and Natural Gas Service "Relight".

For information on the restoration process from Columbia Gas, visit https://www.columbiagas.com/massachusetts/restoration.

Mobile Customer Care Centers

Mobile customer resource centers will be deployed to communities within the affected communities in the Greater Lawrence area. Representatives staffing the units will be able to answer questions and provide customers with helpful information.

For updated locations on mobile units, visit https://www.columbiagas.com/massachusetts/home.

Columbia Gas Claims Centers

Columbia Gas is accepting claims from both residential and business customers. Call 1-800-590-5571 to file a claim over the phone or visit one of our Property Claims Centers. Keep track of receipts and expenses. Visit ColumbiaGasMa.com for additional information.

Key Columbia Gas Phone Numbers

Customer Service Hotline for Affected Customers: 1-866-388-3239

Property Claims Number: 1-800-590-5571 (including alternative housing assistance)

Gas Emergency: 1-800-525-8222

More information from Columbia Gas is available at ColumbiaGasMa.com

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. 

Hot Plate & Electric Skillet Safety Tips

  • Only use hot plates and electric skillets on the countertop.
  • Keep a 1-foot circle of safety around it; clear of anything that can catch fire.
  • Turn off when not in use.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking; stand by your pan.
  • Teach children to keep 3 giant steps from any cooking (the stove, a grill, or a hot plate).
  • Have a pot cover nearby to “put a lid” on a fire. Then unplug the hot plate if it is safe to do so.
  • Plug hot plates and electric skillets directly into the wall; do not use extension cords or power strips.
  • If the device trips the breaker or blows a fuse, stop using it right away and call an electrician or ask the landlord to so.
  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

For more cooking fire and burn safety tips go to: Cooking Fire and Burn Safety.

Space Heater Safety Fire Safety Tips

  • Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets.
  • Do not use extension cords or power strips.
  • Keep space heaters 3-feet away from anything that can catch fire (bedding, furniture, newspapers).
  • Teach children to stay 3-giant steps away from the heater.
  • Do not put anything on the heater; do not put clothes on the heater to dry.
  • Turn space heaters off when you leave the house or go to bed. Don’t leave running unattended.
  • Space heaters are designed for temporary use only, not to replace central heating.
  • If the device trips the breaker or blows a fuse, stop using it right away and call an electrician or ask the landlord to so.
  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

For more winter heating safety tips in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Chinese and Russian, go to: Learn about winter home heating.

Grill Safety

Use grills outside, 10-feet from the house.

  • Do not use grills on porches.
  • Teach children to keep 3 giant steps away.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

“Working smoke alarms are your first line of defense in a fire; they give you precious seconds to escape a fire,” said Ostroskey. “Have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home and outside bedrooms and discuss your fire escape plan with the whole family,” he added. Home escape plans should have two ways out of every room and a family meeting place outside.

Community Information

City of Lawrence: www.cityoflawrence.com/gasemergency  

Town of Andover: https://andoverma.gov/

Town of North Andover: https://www.northandoverma.gov/

Support from the Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund

On Wednesday, Oct. 3, the application process was opened for financial support from the Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund. These funds are available for impacted residents in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover who have been without gas service since Sept. 13, and will continue without service for the foreseeable future.

Starting Wednesday, Oct. 3, residents in the impacted areas of Andover, Lawrence and North Andover will be able to apply for financial resources from the Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund in one of three ways:

  1. Online at www.GLDRF.org (Link will be live on Oct. 3; this is the fastest and easiest way to apply)
  2. Over the phone by dialing 2-1-1, for those who cannot apply online
  3. In person for anyone in need of assistance at one of three drop-in centers:
     
Andover: 

   Old Town Hall, 20 Main St., Andover  
   (Thursday, Oct. 4, Noon to 8pm)

Lawrence:

   Relief's In, 1 Market St., Lawrence
   (Thursday. Oct. 4, 10am to 8pm)

North Andover:    First and Main Plaza, 115 Main St., North Andover
   (Thursday. Oct. 4, Noon to 8pm)

Days and hours vary by location. For location information, and for answers to frequently asked questions such as eligibility, the application process, the small business emergency loan fund and more, please refer to the documents below. 

Additional Resources

Support from the Emergency Business Loan Fund

On September 28, 2018, 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. 

Additional Resources

Housing options for impacted customers who choose not to remain in their homes during restoration

On Friday, October 5, the Baker-Polito Administration, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, Mayor Rivera, Town Managers Maylor and Flanagan and Columbia Gas announced that alternative housing is being made available to customers impacted by the September 13th gas line incident who choose not to stay in their homes as the weather turns colder. The housing program, which includes hotel rooms, apartments, travel trailers, and combination warming centers and shelters, is being coordinated by Columbia Gas with support from local and state agencies and other partners. Impacted customers will be able to stay in alternative housing until service to their homes is restored.

Impacted Columbia Gas customers who choose to be placed in alternative housing should call Columbia Gas’ Claims line: 1-800-590-5571. A member of the Housing Assistance Team will gather information from the customer, including information about access and functional needs, size and family makeup, and individual and family needs.  This information will be used to identify housing options for customers.

Transportation arrangements will be provided for residents staying in hotels and apartments who do not have their own means of transportation, including Uber and Lyft rideshare services.  Information will be provided to residents during the placement process.

Additional Resources

SNAP client who has recently lost food due to the emergency

Attention: If you are a SNAP client who has recently lost food due to the Merrimack Valley gas emergency you may be eligible for replacement benefits. You must report a loss by 10/8 by calling DTA or submitting the SNAP 9-B form.

Additional Resources

Massachusetts Health Connector premium waivers to residents and businesses

Gr. Lawrence Community Action Council (GLCAC) is partnering with the Massachusetts Health Connector to help members who were impacted by the Columbia Gas incident. The Health Connector is offering premium waivers for up to three months for individual members and Health Connector for Business members who need assistance.

Members can secure a waiver by contacting the Health Connector’s customer service center at 877-623-6765 or GLCAC’s Navigator program at 978-620-4784. Members will need to attest on the call that they are impacted by the Sept. 13 incident.

Department of Unemployment Assistance information for those affected

Any person who worked or lived in the area affected by the recent Columbia Gas explosions who is now unable to return to work as a result of this disaster, may file a claim for unemployment benefits. Workers do not need a formal layoff notice from their employer to file a claim for unemployment benefits. If they are available and willing to work but their place of employment is closed due to the catastrophe, they are experiencing a "lack of work" that may create eligibility for unemployment benefits. The Department of Unemployment Assistance has staff on site at The ValleyWorks Career Center of Lawrence as well as a dedicated phone line with staff who are ready to provide information, answer questions, and assist with unemployment claim filings for anyone affected by the Columbia Gas situation. Individuals who have questions about unemployment assistance or who would like assistance filing an unemployment claim can call 877-355-1135. Individuals may also file their unemployment claims using the self-service UI Online system at: www.mass.gov/unemployment-benefits-for-claimants. The ValleyWorks Career Center is located at 255 Essex Street, Lawrence, Massachusetts, 01840. Their telephone number is 978-722-7000.

Cualquier persona que trabajó o vivió en el área afectada por las recientes explosiones de Columbia Gas y que ahora no puede regresar al trabajo como resultado de este desastre, puede presentar una reclamación de beneficios de desempleo. Los trabajadores no necesitan un aviso de despido formal de parte de su empleador para presentar una reclamación de beneficios de desempleo. Si están disponibles y dispuestos a trabajar, pero su lugar de trabajo está cerrado debido a la catástrofe, están experimentando una "falta de trabajo" que puede crear elegibilidad para los beneficios de desempleo. El Departamento de Asistencia al Desempleado tiene personal en el Centro de Recursos Professionales ValleyWorks de Lawrence que están listos para proporcionar información, responder preguntas y ayudar con las reclamaciones de desempleo para cualquier persona afectada por la situación de Columbia Gas. Las personas que tengan preguntas sobre la asistencia por desempleo o que deseen asistencia para presentar una reclamación de desempleo pueden llamar al 877-355-1135. Las personas también pueden presentar sus reclamaciones de desempleo utilizando el sistema de autoservicio UI Online en: www.mass.gov/unemployment-benefits-for-claimants. El Centro de Recursos Professionales ValleyWorks se encuentra en 255 Essex Street, Lawrence, Massachusetts, 01840. Su número de teléfono es 978-722-7000.

Additional Resources

Department of Revenue announces filing and payment information for affected taxpayers

On September 21, 2018, the Department of Revenue has announced it is taking steps to address the concerns of taxpayers in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover who have been affected by the recent gas explosions.

The Department recognizes that taxpayers in these areas might be unable to comply with their tax filing or payment due dates that occurred on or after the date of the explosions, and would like to assist those taxpayers as much as possible.

The Department is announcing that it will waive any penalties associated with any late-filed return or payment that was due on or after September 12th, and before October 1st. The Department will waive penalties for one month, and will later revisit whether any further extensions should be granted.

If any taxpayer in the affected areas receives notice of a penalty for this period they should reach out to the Department of Revenue at (617) 887-6367.

Additional Resources

Have questions regarding meeting your child support obligations

If you are an individual or business in the three communities, Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, impacted by the gas explosions on September 13 and have questions regarding meeting your child support obligations, we encourage you to contact our Customer Service Bureau at 1-800-332-2733 to discuss the circumstances.

Additional Resources

Date published: October 1, 2018

Feedback

Did you find what you were looking for on this webpage? * required
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate the contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate the contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.

If you need to report child abuse, any other kind of abuse, or need urgent assistance, please click here.

Feedback