By Lisa Gresci

LAWRENCE (CBS) — December 16th is a day countless families in the Merrimack Valley have been waiting for.

The original deadline for Columbia Gas to restore service to customers was November 19th.

“The people around here, I felt so sorry for and I still feel so sorry for them,” Lawrence resident Barbara LaCourse said.

LaCourse’s entire neighborhood still remembers the September day.

A gas explosion destroyed this home in Lawrence, Sept. 13, 2018. (WBZ-TV)

“I said ‘what’s going on’ and I heard there’s a fire everywhere. The police came down the street and said everyone evacuate the city,” Alex Delgado recalled.

According to the latest Merrimack Valley update from Columbia Gas, restoration is “substantially complete,” which means nearly all residences and businesses now have heat, hot water and working gas appliances. The remaining customers who don’t have service decided to go with their own contractors instead of Columbia Gas.

(WBZ-TV)

Many families were waiting it out in temporary housing and Mayor Dan Rivera was happy to see those trailers go.

“Another very big symbol of this disaster is gone,” he said.

The worst may be over for Merrimack Valley families because Columbia Gas says many of them are home just in time for the holidays.

“It’s Christmas around the corner, pretty sure a lot of kids are not going to have a good Christmas this year,” Delgado said.

“Christmas isn’t Christmas without being home,” Lacourse added.

Barbara LaCourse (WBZ-TV)

However, the entire experience is something that has without a doubt changed their lives.

“It’s emotional, you hear the police, the fire trucks, you’re just ‘Oh my God what happened did something happening again?’” resident Leyda Martinez said.

“It is traumatic for a lot of people. One day is a regular day and the next thing you know explosions happen and everyone is out of a home,” Delgado said.

Lisa Gresci

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