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UPDATE: Power restored to several hundred customers in South Lawrence, 597 still without electricity

by Jill Harmacinski, Eagle Tribune

UPDATE, 12:36 P.M.


National Grid reports, as of noon today, it has restored power to several hundred customers. Currently there are now at 597 homes and businesses without power.


Under the direction of public safety officials, as a safety precaution, the utility began to shut off power to customers around 4:30 a.m. this morning.


The total peak National Grid customers without power in Lawrence was 1,389, according to spokesperson Christine Milligan.


UPDATE, 11:47 A.M.


Third District Congresswoman Lori Trahan said she was outraged by news of mandatory evacuations due to a gas leak in South Lawrence.


“I commend the fire and police departments who were quickly on the scene to go door to door to make sure residents in the impacted area were taken to safety. Authorities have confirmed that the leak is currently contained, and that there is no imminent danger of fires or explosions. The leak has been traced to a section of pipe which was replaced last year. The citizens of Lawrence have been through enough. With the memory of last year’s deadly disaster still fresh, Columbia Gas owes our community a detailed explanation of how this new section of pipeline has already failed. I will continue to monitor the situation as it progresses, and my office stands ready to assist those who have been temporarily displaced.”


UPDATE, 11:21 A.M.


"If there was a singular lesson learned from last year’s crisis, it is that the power of collective action is real, and the ability to distribute and share information as it is known is vital to making sure resources are available and those who need them have access," said Derek Mitchell, executive director of the Lawrence Partnership.


The group cancelled its board meeting today, as several members were responding to the gas leak.


"As of now, we are working with local and state officials to understand the extent of the issue and the broader implications. Our partners at WeAreLawrence are fully leveraging that platform to keep updates centralized and easily accessible, so please follow wearelawrence.org/lawrencegasresponse for more information as it is available."


UPDATE, 11:03 A.M.


National Grid turned off power to more than 1,200 customers this morning, at the request of the Fire Department.


When the danger from the leak has passed, the utility has crews in the community to restore power right away, a spokesperson said.


National Grid turned off power to all homes in the affected area, even ones without gas lines, as a safety measure.


UPDATE, 10:43 A.M.


Kingston Street resident Mio Sanchez woke this morning to the sound of her neighbors talking and the smell of gas.


She got a text from a neighbor at 4:10 a.m., telling her there was a gas leak.


"We are being asked to evacuate," the message said.


"I felt nauseated," Sanchez added.


She checked on her cat, then listed for explosions.


Sanchez went through this last year, when an overpressurized gas line leak caused fires and explosions throughout the city. One person died and 21 were injured.


"It was a complete deja vu feeling," she said.


Last time she didn't evacuate right away. This time she quickly packed a bag in case she wasn't able to return home Friday evening.


"Last year I really needed socks. (This time) I packed five pairs of socks," she said.


She said there was a key difference with Friday morning's events and the events of Sept. 13, 2018.


"People actually left this time in a hurry," she said. "Knowing the severity last time, people left immediately and took action."


UPDATE, 10:16 A.M.


Police Chief Roy Vasque said Columbia Gas and first responders are making progress checking people's homes and businesses after a major gas leak this morning in Lawrence.


Crews are checking gas levels and checking service.


The source of the has leak has still not been found, Vasque said.


UPDATE, 9:43 A.M.


At least 146 businesses and homes were evacuated due to this morning's major gas leak in Lawrence -- meaning that hundreds of people are affected, according to officials.


National Grid turned off power to more than 1,200 customers this morning, at the request of the Fire Department.


UPDATE, 9:19 A.M.


LAWRENCE — About four hours after he was forced out of his South Lawrence home, Luis Torres stood in the sun outside the Arlington School eating a bowl of Frosted Flakes.


Torres said his mother burst into his room at 4 am and told him they needed to get out of their Crosby Street home -- again.


It was the second time he and his parents were evacuated from their house due to a gas leak. The family was also forced out for four days after the Sept. 13, 2018 gas explosions and fires.


They live very close to the South Broadway fire station. The gas leak is believed to have originated in that area.


“Here we go again,” said Torres, as he ate his cereal outside the Arlington School, which is being used as a shelter after Friday morning’s gas leak on South Broadway.


Some 250 people were in the shelter as of 8:30 am. Breakfast was provided by the Arlington School for those there. The Salvation Army is expected to bring food and water for lunch, said Jeff Hall, Red Cross spokesman.



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