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Massachusetts

Businesses Struggling Months After Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions

Nine years ago, Eusebio Hernandez opened his grocery store, Hernandez Market, on Loring Street in Lawrence, Massachusetts. In under 90 days, he might need to close it permanently.

The Sept. 13 gas explosions forced him to shut down for nearly two months. But even after he reopened, business never returned to normal.

“I went from making probably $1,000 a day to $200 a day now," he said. "A lot of people have moved on; a lot of people moved out. People are still, I believe, traumatized. A lady told me she doesn't like coming out."

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said the city is still working to dole out $6 million set aside for small businesses impacted by the blasts.

"What we want to do is put money in the hands of — put money on the street — in a way that gets in the hands of the businesses long term," he said. "And we haven't figured it out yet."

Small businesses may also apply for loans for up to $50,000. The money for those loans comes from a $3 million emergency loan fund that the state set up last year.

In addition, federal loans are available for up to $2 million.

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