LAWRENCE (CBS) – Governor Charlie Baker and other officials announced they are forming a foundation to funnel aid to the residents of three Merrimack Valley communities impacted by last week’s gas explosions and fires.

The foundation will aim to help residents with expenses not covered by Columbia Gas or their own insurance.

“Shelter and sustenance and support for people as they deal with what I’m sure is going to be a difficult series of weeks,” said Baker.

Officials said the foundation should be named and in place by the end of the week, with an intake process set up shortly thereafter. Baker hopes it will eventually have millions of dollars to assist the region.

Restaurants in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover are already experiencing hardships.

Without gas, LaRosa’s Café and Bar in Andover decided to reopen with a menu limited to cold items. Owner Paul LaRosa quickly ordered an electric hot water heater but his stove-top still sits idle.

“That’s the life blood of what we do and that’s the adjustment that we’re really dealing with today,” LaRosa said. “Most of the community doesn’t have any gas either. Unable to cook in their home. Luckily we have some ways and we’re able to get some food out there and get our employees back to work so that they can provide for their family members.”

Other businesses in the area remained closed on Monday.

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