Friday, December 10, 2010

Methuen has no Gas

Methuen residents who use natural gas in their homes may have had a rude awakening last night. The gas company is having problems and they need to shut down all of the meters in the affected area.

We didn't get a knock on the door last night, and my shower was nice and hot. I don't believe this affects us, but it might affect you. Here is more information from two news articles.

From, Gas main problem causes mass evacuation in Methuen; school canceled tomorrow

By Vivian Ho, Globe Correspondent

A sudden loss of pressure in a gas main has forced a mandatory evacuation of about 83 streets in western Methuen tonight, according to the Methuen fire department.

The problem, which was reported at about 4 p.m., affects up to 1,200 homes and businesses, said Methuen fire Chief Steven Buote.

The gas main has been fixed, but representatives from Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, which operates the gas main, must go to each individual home or business and shut down the gas meters before the gas main can be reenergized. Representatives then have to return to those customers to inspect the gas service, a process officials are saying will last into the weekend, Buote said.

A temporary shelter has been set up at Timony Grammar School on Pleasant View Street.

Because one school will be used as a shelter, and another – the Marsh Grammar School – is directly affected by the gas main, all Methuen Public Schools will be closed tomorrow.

Buote said that although the problem is inconveniencing many Methuen residents on a night when temperature are expected to dip as low as 15 degrees, the gas outage poses no danger.

“They will certainly be diligent to make sure everything is safe before the services are turned back on,” he said.

From the Lawrence Eagle Tribune, Update: Gas service crews may have to break into homes.

By J.J. Huggins The Eagle Tribune Fri Dec 10, 2010, 02:40 AM EST

METHUEN — Crews went door to door in the sub-freeezing cold overnight, breaking in if necessary, to turn off gas meters at 950 homes and businesses after the main gas supply in a portion of Methuen was shut off.

The shut-off forced some residents to seek warmth at an emergency shelter in the city or with friends or relatives. All public schools in the city were to be closed today.

Residents who rely on natural gas from Columbia Gas of Massachusetts for heat, hot water, cooking or drying clothes were unable to use their appliances because of a problem with a gas main serving the Pelham Street area, from downtown through the West End.

Crews are expected to continue working today and possibly into tomorrow to fix the problem, although no one last night was able to provide a a definite time for resumption of service. The city opened an emergency shelter at Timony Grammar School at 45 Pleasant View St. for anybody who needed a warm place to go, Mayor William Manzi said.

Columbia Gas spokesman Don DiNunno said workers were doing maintenance on a gas main when a drop in pressure occurred. They crew shut off the main and realized they had a gas outage in the making, DiNunno said.

They then re-focused their efforts on restoring pressure and gathering resources to deal with the situation, DiNunno said.

DiNunno said the pipe was not damaged, there was no leak and no danger. No injuries were reported.

Workers had to visit all 950 customers on 83 streets to turn off gas meters as a safety precaution.

Once the last meter is off, workers can re-introduce gas to the main, DiNunno said.

Once they re-introduce the gas, workers have to return to all 950 homes and businesses to light pilots on natural gas appliances and turn meters back on, DiNunno said.

"It's a truly time-consuming procedure," he said.

The company brought in crews from around the region to fan out across the West End. Officials had no firm time estimate for when gas would be restored, but Manzi said it could take until tomorrow.

"It's not fun," said Cedarwood Avenue resident Amy Wiggins.

Wiggins and her husband picked up a small electric heater at Home Depot. They have four daughters, ranging in age from 11 to 19 and said they planned to send the three youngest daughters to stay with friends for the night. Their eldest had come home from Harvard University to study for finals.

"She came home because she wanted it to be nice and quiet and warm," Wiggins said.

The mother joked that the family could go stay in a dormitory and expressed frustration with the lack of information from the gas company.

With temperatures expected to plummet to 10 degrees overnight, the city and American Red Cross opened a shelter at Timony School. The shelter could accomodate close to 400 people, and the city was prepared to open a second shelter at Methuen High School, if needed, Manzi said.

Manzi said he learned of the gas problem around 4:30 p.m. The city activated its emergency-response team which evacuated elderly residents from the Methuen Housing Authority units on Edgewood Avenue and from the family units on Jade Street.

Meanwhile, Manzi and other officials met at City Hall with a representative from Columbia Gas. Manzi said gas company workers planned to go door to door with a locksmith and a police escort, and when they encountered vacant homes, they would break in.

"They're accessing any homes that have internal meters because they need to shut those meters off," the mayor said. "You cannot leave one meter on."

Manzi said workers expected to have all the meters turned off by noon today.

Workers will wait until later to do the maintenance procedure that they initially set out to do, DiNunno said. The maintenance that DiNunno referred to was done on Railroad Street. There, a crew from Miller Pipeline Corp., a contractor for Columbia Gas, worked on a gas main near the fire station.

Officials said residents can call the Fire Department at 978-983-8940 for more information or help.

The key piece of info at this point is probably this, "Officials said residents can call the Fire Department at 978-983-8940 for more information or help."

Here's to hoping that none of you were put out of your homes last night. Good luck.

No comments:

Post a Comment