Bitter November Cold Creating Problems, Frustration for Merrimack Valley Residents

Like many others, Stephanie Schratwieser says she is frustrated with Columbia Gas

In the Merrimack Valley, temperatures are right around freezing and some are still without heat.

Stephanie Schratwieser has new space heaters in her Phillips Street apartment in Lawrence.

The heaters, which are attached to a large generator outside, are welcome news for her family in the bitter November cold.

Her kids are huddled in one room to keep warm, and her one-year-old baby had to be hospitalized from pneumonia.

“She hasn’t slept all night. We finally just got her to sleep right now. She’s been crying up all night from the cold, suffering from respiratory big time,” Schratwieser said.

Like many others, she says she’s frustrated with Columbia Gas.

“For the temporary housing, they had nothing available...They said my family was too large for the trailers because it’s four kids, two adults and I need a crib.”

And those trailers are not without their share of problems.

Jose Grullon and his family still have no heat and hot water at home, but in the trailer, the pipes are freezing.

“The pipes are freezing. Sometimes they can’t pump it out,” he said.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency says 19 trailers across the Merrimack Valley ran into water issues.

Tank valves froze, stopping dirty water from draining, and preventing clean water from coming out of the tap.

MEMA says they’ve since installed new equipment to prevent pipes in the trailers from freezing in the future.

Back In Schratwieser’s home, they’ll be much warmer Friday night, but they still worry and are even sleeping in shifts:

“My husband stays up all night and sleeps in the daytime, just so me and the kids are safe at night and making sure the heaters don’t overheat.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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