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State Of Emergency Declared After Gas Fires, Explosions


HOMES A NIGHT AFTER DEADLY GAS EXPLOSIONS AND FIRES, OFFICIALS SAY IT COULD TAKE WEEK TO COMPLETELY RESTORE SERVICE. THE GOVERNOR DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY IN LAWRENCE, ANDOVER AND NORTH ANDOVER. THANKS FOR JOINING US TONIGHT. I’M LISA HUGHES. I’M DAVID WADE. TONIGHT PEOPLE LIVING IN THOSE COMMUNITIES ARE DEMANDING ANSWERS AFTER THE EXPLOSIONS THAT TURNED THEIR LIVES UPSIDE DOWN. WITH LITTLE COMMUNICATION FROM COLUMBIA GAS AND NO CLEAR MAN FROM THE COMPANY TO GET PEOPLE — PLAN FROM THE COMPANY TO GET PEOPLE BACK INTO THEIR HOMES, THE GOVERNOR ASKED EVERSOURCE TO TAKE OVER THE OPERATIONS. LAWRENCE MAYOR DAN RIVERA SAID HE’S BEEN DISGUSTED BY COLUMBIA’S RESPONSE. THE LEAST INFORMED AND THE LAST TO ACT HAS BEEN COLUMBIA GAS. THE MAYOR ALSO ACCUSED COLUMBIA GAS OF DRAGGING ITS FEET BRINGING IN CREWS TO SAVE MONEY. THE COMPANY SAID IT NEEDED TIME TO DETERMINE THE BEST RESPONSE BEFORE CALLING THOSE CREWS. AFTER THE MAYOR’S FIERY SPEECH 23 HOURS INTO THE CRISIS THE PRESIDENT OF COLUMBIA GAS SPOKE PUBLICLY FOR THE FIRST TIME SAYING THEY HAD SHUT OFF GAS TO 32 HOMES WITH THE GOAL OF CHECKING ALL THE HOMES BY SUNDAY. ALL THE RESIDENTS ARE EVACUATED FROM THEIR HOMES. WE BEGIN OUR TEAM COVERAGE IN LAWRENCE TONIGHT WITH THE VERY LATEST ON THE INVESTIGATION THERE. Reporter: SO FAR GOVERNOR BAKER AND THE MAYOR OF LAWRENCE SAY THEY ARE PLEASED WITH EVERSOURCE’S RESPONSE. THE GOVERNOR SAYS THE FOCUS IS ON THE NEXT 24 TO 48 HOURS TO MAKE SURE HOMES ARE SAFE FOR RESIDENTS TO RETURN EITHER TOMORROW OR ON SUNDAY. TURNING THE GAS BACK ON, THOUGH, WILL TAKE A LOT LONGER. WE’RE TALKING WEEKS. WE ARE TALKING WEEKS. Reporter: UNTIL THE GAS IS BACK ON. THAT’S THE LATEST ASSESSMENT FROM OVERSOURCE, THE COMPANY TAKING OVER AS THE LEAD UTILITY IN THE RESTORATION EFFORTS FOLLOWING THURSDAY’S EXPLOSIONS AND FIRES IN THE MERRIMACK VALLEY SAYING IT WILL BE A LENGTHY THREE-PHASE PROCESS TO GET THE GAS BACK ON. WE WILL BRING EVERY RESOURCE AVAILABLE AND WE WILL WORK AROUND THE CLOCK AND WE’VE GOT TO HAVE OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH ALL THE OFFICIALS. Reporter: THE UTILITY TAKING OVER CONTROL FROM COLUMBIA GAS FOLLOWING THIS AFTERNOON’S STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARATION BY GOVERNOR CHARLIE BAKER. BOTH THE GOVERNOR AND MAYOR OF LAWRENCE SAY COLUMBIA GAS WASN’T DOING ENOUGH. WE TOOK THIS STEP AFTER IT BECAME CLEAR TO US THAT COLUMBIA GAS WAS SIMPLY INADEQUATELY PREPARED TO TAKE THE STEPS NECESSARY TO EFFECTIVELY MANAGE RELIEF EFFORTS. THEY’RE HIDING FROM THE PROBLEM. Reporter: COLUMBIA GAS GETTING PEPPERED WITH QUESTIONS BY THE MEDIA TODAY ABOUT THEIR ABSENCE FROM THE PRESS BRIEFINGS OVER THE LAST 24 HOURS SAYING THEY’VE BEEN FOCUSING ON FIXING THE PROBLEM. WE HAVE HAD SUBSTANTIVE, LENGTHY CONVERSATIONS WITH WIDE GROUPS OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS. Reporter: COLUMBIA GAS IS STILL VERY MUCH A PART OF THE PROCESS. THEIR TECHNICIANS ALONG WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT ARE GOING DOOR TO DOOR IN NORTH ANDOVER, ANDOVER AND LAWRENCE SHUTTING OFF THE GAS AND CHECKING THE MORE THAN 8,000 HOMES AFFECTED. WAS IT A RELIEF WHEN YOU SAW THE CREWS PULL UP? YES, YES. WE ALL CAME OUTSIDE. NOBODY HAD CAME BEFORE, YOU KNOW. I JUST PRAYED TO GOD THAT THIS ENDS SOON. Reporter: THE NTSB IS NOW WORKING TO DETERMINE THE CAUSE. THEY’LL BE LOOKING AT THE DESIGN OF THE PIPELINE, ANY UPGRADES MADE AND ITS MANAGEMENT.

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