Columbia Gas Nears Dec. 16 Restoration Deadline

Columbia Gas crews were out working on Sunday as the Dec. 16 restoration deadline nears.

The Rennies say they are ready to move on. Their heaters have been powered by a humming generator outside for months, requiring wiring to weave into their third floor apartment.

"They keep saying, 'Oh don't worry about it. It'll be on tomorrow.' It just keeps going, and going, and going, and going..."

Laura Rennie, who was already living with anxiety and depression, says the situation has made things worse.

"It's been really stressful, for me especially. I just got diagnosed with PTSD because of it," she said.

With her home in disrepair and strangers coming in and out to fix it, the frustration and complication has been consuming.

"The other day I actually had a panic attack and I had to be taken to the hospital because they thought I was having a heart attack," Laura said.

In their kitchen, they still have to use their new dryer, stove and heater.

"This is the tankless water heaters."

In their basement, all of this work has been done in a week.

The Rennies say they want this to be over, but for Laura, it will take a much longer time.

"It's not going to go away. I'll always have it. It's just I'm going to learn to deal with it," she said.

The Rennies say even with everything going on they consider themselves lucky. Some 1,500 people are still in temporary housing.

The original restoration date was Nov. 19, but that didn't happen.

So the deadline is now Dec. 16, just two weeks away.

A spokesperson from Columbia Gas says they are 93 percent done for the homes affected and 94 percent done for the businesses affected.

As for claims, the company has paid nearly $70 million.

According to a statement released by the town of Andover, 39 percent of Andover residents and 95 percent of business customers who lost gas service have had their service restored as of Sunday.

A total of 113 Andover residents remain without gas service, with 465 total residential customers remaining without gas in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence, the statement said. 

Hot water heaters, stoves and dryers will be replaced and boilers and furnaces will safely be repaired or replaced. Any of those that are repaired will be replaced in the spring, the statement said.

Columbia Gas has received nearly 5,000 claims from Andover residents and business owners. it has paid $22.1 million to Andover gas customers as of Sunday.

The Massachusetts State Senate has two overnight hearing scheduled, one on Dec. 4 in Boston and the other in the Merrimack Valley on Dec. 17.

The Sept. 13 disaster killed one person, injured dozens more and destroyed or damaged more than 100 homes. Thousands of homes and businesses also lost gas service.

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