LAWRENCE (CBS) – Two months to the day after the gas explosions that killed one and left thousands displaced, Merrimack Valley affected residents are preparing for a stretch of sub-freezing temperatures without heat.

Yohanny Cespedes has been living in a hotel since early October, but is now starting to worry about her Lawrence home of 11 years. “[My pipes are] the biggest worry,” she told WBZ.

On top of living in a hotel, Cespedes has had to take her home cleaning business on the road. Typically, it’s run out of her home. Her three daughters have been staying with her in a hotel room. “It’s not comfortable,” she said. “Like you can go to a hotel for vacation and it’s fun, but being in a hotel for living – it’s not fun.”

Cespedes says if Columbia Gas doesn’t show up to turn on her gas in the next week, she’s going to have to “call the plumber and drain the water,” even though she still has tenants in part of her four-family home. “That’s what I’m going to have to do,” she said.

For customers waiting for heat and worried about their pipes freezing, Columbia Gas recommends extra precautions:

1. Leave faucets slowly dripping.
2. Open cabinet doors beneath sinks.
3. Disconnect outside hoses.
4. Keep garage doors closed.

Even with these precautions, the company recognizes that freezing pipes are a very real possibility, and says should customers face frozen pipes, it’s willing to pay the price. “We are prepared to accommodate our customers and help throughout what is a very difficult and disruptive process,” said spokesman Dean Lieberman.

“If the [pipes] break, it’s going to be worse for Columbia Gas,” Cespedes said. “It’s not only going to be worse for me, but for them too.” She is hoping her gas will be back on before the new December 16th deadline – and Columbia Gas says it’s a possibility. “We are beating our daily and weekly goals so there is a good chance that date might come forward a bit,” said Lieberman.

For customers who have a scheduled “relight” date in December, Columbia Gas is reaching out to offer professional winterization services, according to Lieberman.

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