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Sunday, September 16, 2018
Operations Update on the Incident in Merrimack Valley

Incident Contact Numbers


Affected Customer Hotline 1-866-388-3239
Property Claims Hotline
1-800-590-5571
Gas Emergency1-800-525-8222

Overview and System Status

Eversource and Columbia Gas crews worked through the night to shut off gas meters and make sure buildings were clear of natural gas. As of 6:00 a.m., Sunday all residences/buildings have been cleared. Residents are allowed back into their homes as of 7:00 a.m.

National Grid and Eversource have restored power to all but about 4,000 customers in the area and expect to have all but 90 restored by 8:00 a.m. and will have everyone restored by mid-day.

Resources

A full complement of crews remain in the area throughout neighborhoods to assist residents as they return to their homes and answer any questions they may have about gas safety.

Columbia Gas has increased staffing levels in anticipation of elevated levels of calls as residents return home.

For Customers in the Affected Area

Next, Phase II: Assuring the safety of the gas system in the area.

Phase III: Crews will check appliances for any issues.

Phase IV: Restoring gas service to each of the 8,600 meters.

For Customers Outside of the Affected Area

We understand that customers other than those directly affected by the incident had natural gas service turned off or turned their own gas service off as a precaution. We are now working to turn gas back on to those customers. Please call us at 1-866-388-3239 and we will add your property to the list to restore your service ASAP.

If you're not sure if your property is on the list or not, please call us at 1-866-388-3239.

We’re here to support the communities and state government, ensure public safety and restore service as quickly and as safely as possible. We commit to keep all stakeholders updated regularly with clear and open communications throughout the process.

Regarding our gas operations:

We take the safety of our systems seriously and maintain and operate our systems at the highest standards.

Our top priority is the safety of the public, customers and employees.

We helped 180 families in our Property Claims Center yesterday, which is moving today to the High School Learning Center, 58 Lawrence Street. Hours of operation are from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on weekdays. Keep track of your receipts and expenses so you can be reimbursed, as well as any claims for child care, lost wages and lost food. We appreciate your patience as long lines are expected, and we are focused on helping as many families as possible.

If a customer smells an odor of natural gas, they should leave the area immediately, move to a safe location and call 911 and our emergency number at 1-800-525-8222.

If a customer smells an odor of natural gas:

  • Don’t turn off gas to your house or to any appliances.
  • Don’t try to find the leak yourself or operate pipeline valves.
  • Don’t light a match or candle, or operate anything that could cause a spark, including home phones or cell phones, lights, appliances, flashlights, power tools, etc.
  • Don’t open the windows and doors in an attempt to ventilate.

Regarding bills and payments:

We have suspended all billing and payment actions for the impacted customers until further notice. Customers do not need to worry about bills, payments, late fees, or terminations. Right now we are focused on getting customers back into their homes and working toward restoring service.

Answers to Common Questions

Q. When can I get back in my house? When will my house have gas again?
A: This situation is unprecedented. We have brought in scores of additional resources to restore service as soon as possible. However, we expect restoration to take an extended period of time. We are working with emergency responders to visit each home and business to shut off gas service and make sure the home is safe. When an area is complete, the electric company can restore power. We will need to visit each home again to restore gas service.

Q. I shut off my gas. How do I turn it back on?
A: DO NOT attempt to turn your gas back on. Contact Columbia Gas to make an appointment to have your service restored.

Q. I’m concerned my home isn’t safe. Can you check my service?
A: Yes, contact Columbia Gas to schedule a safety check.

Q. Will I still have to pay my bill when I’m not getting gas?
A: When the gas is shut off, there is no gas running through your meter – so there are no charges for gas usage. If you have further questions about your bill, please contact Columbia Gas.

Q. Who do I call if my property is damaged?
A: Please call the Columbia Gas Property Claims Helpline at 1-800-590-5571. You can also visit our Property Claims Center at the Lawrence Public Library (51 Lawrence Ave.) from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on weekdays.

Q. I have expenses for hotel/food. Will you reimburse me?
A: Columbia Gas will reimburse displaced residents for reasonable accommodations until it is safe to return home. You can request reimbursement by contacting our Property Claims Helpline at 1-800-590-5571. Keep track of your receipts and expenses so you can be reimbursed.

Regarding customer actions in the affected area:

First and foremost, our thoughts are with everyone impacted by these fires and we stand ready to support these communities.

Approximately 8,600 outages resulted in the affected communities and we expect this to be an extended duration event.

We recognize that losing service and vacating your property is a significant disruption. Our crews are working hard to restore gas service to everyone as quickly as safety allows. We are committed to getting residents back into their homes safely.

Media Contact

Scott Ferson
617-571-9595

Customer Numbers

Affected Customer Helpline
1-866-388-3239

Property Claims Helpline
1-800-590-5571

Gas Emergency
1-800-525-8222

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