By Paul Burton

LAWRENCE (CBS) — Things are returning to normal in Lawrence Saturday after a gas leak caused around 150 homes and businesses to evacuate early Friday morning, though residents said they are still suffering.

“It’s unbelievably frustrating. You don’t know if I come home is my house going to be OK?,” said resident Bruce Razin. “It just seems like it’s ongoing. When is it going to end?”

The leak was caused by contractors employed by the city who were checking water valves in preparation for road paving. It comes just a year after a deadly chain of gas explosions rocked the city.

This new emergency brings back horrific memories for the citizens of Lawrence, causing increased stress as well as straining local businesses who were forced to close.

Mental health counselors were available at the Wetherbee Elementary School in Lawrence Saturday (WBZ-TV)

At the Wetherbee Elementary School, mental health counselors were standing by to offer emotional support to people who went through the explosions last year.

Brad Richardson, who works for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, said counselors were offering comfort care and whatever they could to help people through the situation.

“A lot of people were re-traumatized with what occurred, especially seeing it was around the anniversary of the first explosion event that took place,” Richardson said.

Resident Lindsey Peters said that just hearing the word “evacuation” was triggering.

“Exhausting. I have two kids at home,” Peters said. “Being able to support them and get all that done with this stress is a lot.”

Many streets were still closed Saturday, stopping many businesses from opening. John Harrington, the owner of Carleen’s Coffee Shop, said his restaurant would normally be hustling and bustling on a Saturday.

“I’m just numb. I’m just shaking my head and just can’t believe it,” Harrington said. “My customers are just outraged.”

Columbia Gas announced Saturday that all residents can return to their homes and that they should all have gas restored by 10 p.m., but many residents said they were still frustrated, scared and tired.

Paul Burton


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