Merrimack Valley gas explosions
National Guard to help those affected by Merrimack Valley gas explosions Credit: Ted Siefer

The National Guard handed out thousands of hot plates to residents of Lawrence who were affected by gas explosions that devastated the Merrimack Valley last week.

 

More than 7,000 hot plates were distributed on Saturday as part of recovery efforts to give residents without gas service the ability to cook.

 

"So now people are home," said Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera. "And they have electricity. And now the next step is how do we bring a sense of normalcy to them? And that is, yeah they can get their hands on some food, but their own place to cook it."

 

Andover and North Andover residents are instructed to pick-up hot plates at the designated locations. Meanwhile, more than 24,000 space heaters are also being prepared for disbursement to residents some time next week.

 

National Guard

 

"We all share the same goal of getting people back to their normal daily life, whether it's a hot shower, a home-cooked meal or the ability to open up a business," said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who declared a state of emergency last week. "We're bringing every available resource to make this happen."

Continued efforts for those affected

According to WHDH, the Fire Chief and electricians plan to go door to door to inspect and approve where residents will place their space heaters as a safety precaution.

Governor Charlie Baker has announced an initiative that will see more than 8,000 residents have their power and gas restored by November 19.

Navy Capt. Joe Albanese has been named the Chief Recovery Officer, tasked with running the recovery project. Rear Admiral Richard E. Cellon will assist Albanese. Columbia Gas workers plan to completely replace the 48-mile pipe-line distribution system with the project starting on Monday.

Columbia Gas hosts Job Fair

On Saturday while the National Guard handed out hot plates, Columbia Gas officials held a job fair in Lawrence to meet with local electricians, plumbers and more who could assist in the efforts of restoring gas to residents before winter.

"We are asking for plumbers and electricians," said Columbia Gas spokesman Ken Stammen. "On the customer service positions, we are making offers on the spot today."