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‘Very, Very Frustrating’: Thousands Still Without Heat in Merrimack Valley as Winter Approaches

Jenny Aguasvivas showed a pile of heavy blankets her mom, Lourdes, is using at night to keep warm when she sleeps in her home in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

"This is how she keeps warm," she said.

Lourdes' home is one of the thousands of houses in the Merrimack Valley still without heat from the gas explosions.

Lourdes said going without heat is affecting her health because she has arthritis. She also babysits a 7-month-old family member.

The space heater keeps them warm by day, but Lourdes is afraid to keep it on at night because of fire concerns.

"It's frustrating, very, very frustrating, because it's very cold at nighttime, especially in the morning, for her," said Aguasvivas.

Thursday, Attorney General Maura Healey's office met with Columbia Gas over concerns that gas won't fully be restored by next month's deadline, with winter coming.

The company says pipeline construction is ahead of schedule, but they still have thousands more meters to make "house ready," and appliances must be installed.

Sherri Deshaies is also not feeling optimistic for her mom, who is elderly and will now leave for a hotel in Nashua, New Hampshire.

"She's sleeping in her bed with double layers of clothing on, fully dressed, and told me today she puts her hands in her pockets when she goes to sleep," Deshaies said.

Pipes in homes are also a concern with the freezing temperatures.

"They told her when she leaves to make sure she shuts her water off, and to flush all her water out of her toilets," said Deshaies.

Columbia will have another open house meeting for residents of Lawrence, North Andover and Andover on Saturday.

There was no immediate comment from Columbia Gas Thursday.

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