LAWRENCE (CBS) – Cooktop cooking and space heaters is the life for Maria Alarcon and her three children, still living inside their chilly Lawrence home. “I don’t want to leave my home, my dog, my kids want to stay home,” said Alarcon.
But now that Columbia Gas will likely miss the November 19 deadline for gas restoration the future is uncertain. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to stay here, fingers crossed that the weather doesn’t get much colder,” she said.
A frustrated Cheryl Gaudette was forced to move into a temporary trailer park in Lawrence two weeks ago as the temperature dropped. She shares cramped quarters with her equally frustrated husband Leonard. “Life has been turned upside down. We can’t do anything we can’t go anywhere,” Gaudette said.
Unable to cope with a cold apartment anymore, the young Caldero family (mom, dad, toddler and a baby on the way) moved into a trailer in Lawrence on Thursday night. “It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating,” said Jose Caldero.
Forty-two days after the gas explosions rocked the Merrimack Valley and left thousands without heat, Carrie Sunde received her first communication from Columbia Gas. It was a mailer with information on what to expect.
“I know people that live in North Andover. I know people that live in Lawrence, and we are all kind of at this point fed up and looking for answers,” said Andover resident Carrie Sunde. “It has kind of spiraled out of control.”
WBZ-TV’s Katie Brace reports
And now Attorney General Maura Healey’s office is sounding off, criticizing the pace of the restoration in a critical letter to the utility. “On many fronts Columbia Gas is failing to meet community needs, even while temperatures continue to drop precipitously,” the letter said.
The utility is accused of failing to provide enough convenient housing, even a dysfunctional claims process which Leonard Gaudette says he knows something about. “You call one person to call another person to call another person,” he says. “There’s too much bureaucracy.”
Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera says he’s sympathetic to a point with Columbia Gas given the city’s challenging infrastructure, but he won’t wait long for answers. “Reevaluate where you are with the date, be truthful about it, and come up with a new date,” he said.
On Friday, Governor Charlie Baker is expected to give an updated timeline for completion of the restoration and sources tell WBZ-TV it’ll likely include a new deadline for gas restoration.