Columbia Gas of Massachusetts estimates having all homes and businesses in areas of the three towns affected by the Sept. 13, 2018 gas explosions and fires restored by Nov. 19, 2018. The over-pressurization of gas lines in these areas has made it necessary to inspect and replace gas mains, service lines to homes and businesses, as well as gas meters and gas appliances at Columbia Gas’ expense. The company is also reimbursing people for some business interruption, temporary housing and meal expenses, as well as providing space heaters and hot plates.
Gas service restoration to areas outside those affected by the fires and explosions, but where gas was turned off, is ongoing and was restored to 7,600 of 9,000 customers as of Oct. 4.
Those who have been affected and have not filed a claim with Columbia Gas, can find more information on their website or by calling (800) 590-5571 to submit a property claim.
The New England Conference is working with the Hispanic/Latino clergy association in Lawrence, the Asociacion Ministerial Evangelica del Area de Lawrence (AMEDAL), to identify and provide emergency resources to those who may not qualify for or are reluctant to access resources available through official channels.
Representatives from the Conference have met with the association’s leadership to discuss partnering in the response. Participating were: Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, the Rev. Rene Perez, dean of the Cabinet; the Rev. Erica Robinson-Johnson, director of Connectional Ministries and assistant to the bishop; Barbara Burnside, Disaster Response & Mission Coordinator for the conference, and the Rev. Gabriela Garcia, pastor of Christ UMC in Lawrence and a member of the clergy association.
With funds granted by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and other donations, the Conference, in partnership with our churches and AMEDAL, will help those without access to other emergency funding whether they are connected to a faith community or not. AMEDAL is handling the applications for assistance.
We ask for continued prayers for those affected and thank all churches that have or will donate to this effort.
To learn more about the situation as it unfolds, here are community websites offering updates:
The Conference has received a $10,000 grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to address needs in the Merrimack Valley. The funds will be disbursed through the Director of Connectional Ministries and Conference Disaster Response offices (see an update on the distribution of these funds above).
One of the best ways that you can help right now is to make a gift through UMCOR. While donations to the U.S. Advance are not designated to a specific region or event, UMCOR is helping here in the Merrimack Valley through the grant to the NEAC, and with your generous assistance, will be there to meet future needs here in New England, and across the nation. And remember, 100 percent of funds donated to UMCOR fund relief efforts (not administrative costs).
To help through UMCOR you can:
Create recovery materials
Here are the guidelines for creating kits:
Find a list of drop-off sites: https://www.neumc.org/umcorreliefsupplydropofflocations