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Columbia Gas Officials Give Tour of Warehouse Supporting Restoration Efforts

Officials at Columbia Gas provided a tour of a massive warehouse that's helping the ongoing restoration efforts in the Merrimack Valley following the natural gas explosions and fires.

The warehouse, located in Lawrence, Massachusetts, holds appliances and burners that are being stored as part of a supply chain to support the restoration efforts in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

Joe Albanese, the chief recovery officer leading the restoration efforts for the state, said that while the pipe replacing side of the effort has gone well, the next hurdle for Columbia Gas will be to replace affected appliances and provide burners.

"Frankly, we've known since we started the planning for this, this is the most difficult part," he said.

Thursday's tour came as impacted customers are doing whatever they can to keep warm as temperatures drop around the region.

Many are managing with space heaters or finding other places to stay, but many say that could change.

"It's freezing. I got my mom staying here with me," Rene Czarnowki said. "She call me and said, 'It's freezing, what do I do?'"

Columbia Gas has been putting people up in hotels, apartments and trailers, and say it will be at least another month of work before service is full restored. So far, about 30 miles of damaged gas lines have been replaced by crews.

The Sept. 13 disaster that killed one person, injured about 25 others and damaged more than 130 buildings was caused by overpressurized natural gas lines, according to a preliminary NTSB report.

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