NORTH ANDOVER (CBS) – Shane Nevins moved to North Andover two weeks before September’s gas disaster.

“We got a reverse 911 [call] that basically said get out of the house. If you’ve got Columbia Gas to your house get out now. There were helicopters everywhere and fire engines everywhere; it was crazy,” Nevins recalled outside his Saunders Street home.

His family was kept out of their home for two weeks, but he never received a gas bill until a couple of days before the new year.

“We got a huge bill in the mail, $243 from out of nowhere and we’re on a payment plan. And they’re like ‘oh you got til the 20th [of January] to pay it’,” Nevins said.

Bill from Columbia Gas (WBZ-TV)

One of Nevins’ elderly neighbors, who only wanted to be identified as Roberta, tells WBZ-TV she’s also waiting for the same bill.

She says she’s on a fixed income and hasn’t gotten a bill since August.

“I couldn’t pay it there’s no way I can pay. I don’t know what will happen. As it is, I owe them a lot of money and I’m only paying small payments now,” Roberta said Wednesday.

Columbia Gas says customers can find the latest billing information on their weekly web newsletter.

Billing for customers whose gas appliances had to be restored or replaced will resume this month. Everyone else will still have to pay.

Columbia Gas workers (WBZ-TV)

“It was clear on the website and if they called Columbia Gas, if they had not received a bill, [they can find out] why they did not receive a bill,” said company spokesman Scott Ferson.

“Columbia Gas works all the time with customers over how to pay it over a period of time. So nobody should worry about that and certainly in the winter no one is in danger of having their gas cut off,” said Ferson from one of the company offices in Haverhill.

Ferson says customers whose gas service was interrupted did receive credits for the month. Nevins got a $13 restoration credit for the month of September.

“They should’ve sent something out, notified us, something, there are thousands of people in this area affected and they didn’t tell anyone other than over a website,” Nevins said.

For now, as the Merrimack Valley braces for the sticker shock, Nevins says he has no choice but to set up a payment plan.

Anaridis Rodriguez

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