By Beth Germano

ANDOVER (CBS) – Governor Baker has announced the creation of an emergency loan fund to assist business owners affected by the September 13 natural gas disaster. The fund will have $1 million from at least ten business enterprises in the area with no interest for at least six months.

That’s good news for John Ingalls, longtime owner of Palmers restaurant in Andover. He is now starting week three without gas and remains closed unable to even get a safety assessment to help him get back on track. “As of today we’re not on that list,” said Ingalls.

John Ingalls (WBZ-TV)

There’s no quick fix, he says. A switch to electrical or propane at this point is impractical, time consuming and costly. “Everything changes each day, every day there is a new adventure,” he said.

On Friday, Ingalls was able to hand out some paychecks to employees but one of his bartenders, Lynn Kennedy, has two small children and a family that needs her income. “It’s been a headache not knowing. I live shift by shift and make all my money on tips. If I don’t have that shift coming I don’t know when I’ll get paid next,” said Kennedy. She’s been able to obtain some cash cards at town hall to get through another week.

Restaurant closed after gas explosions in Merrimack Valley (WBZ-TV)

John Ingalls just hopes his employees will stay with him through the uncertainty. “There’s a lot to worry about, a lot of people I love here and I’m concerned for them,” he said.

The problem for the still closed businesses is the wheels keep turning. There are fixed costs, says Ingalls, and the bills keep coming in.

Governor Baker is hoping the emergency loan fund will help bridge the gap for the businesses in dire need. “Part of what we’re doing is trying to shorten the length of time of the disruption so they can hold onto customers and do things to support their employees,” said Baker.

Business owners can submit applications starting October 1. “That’s an avenue I’m probably going to take because I have to,” said Ingalls.

Beth Germano


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