Merrimack Valley residents affected by last week's gas explosions and fires still don't have gas service as crews work to restore 48 miles of pipeline.
Without gas service, most residents won't be able to heat their homes or cook their food.
With that in mind, officials have implemented temporary solutions into their recovery plan, which includes delivering hot plates and space heaters to residents while a new gas pipeline is constructed.
On Saturday, the National Guard delivered 7,000 hot plates from Columbia Gas to Merrimack Valley residents affected by the explosions, making sure homes have a safe way to cook their food.
.@TheNationsFirst is out in South Lawrence delivering hot plates door to door.— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) September 22, 2018
In @AndoverMaGov: Available in the driveway in front of the Town Offices, 36 Bartlet St; Noon - 4:00 pm.
In @north_andover: At the Community Claims and Resource Center (115 Main Street) until 5pm. pic.twitter.com/Qui6NnCvqq
In Lawrence, National Guard crews were out delivering hot plates from door to door.
In Andover, hot plates were available in the driveway in front of Town Offices from noon to 4 p.m.
In North Andover, hot plates were available at the Community Claims and Resource Center until 5 p.m.
HOT PLATE UPDATE: there is a temporary delay in hot plate availability due to a limited supply in the initial delivery. Residents can still come to Town Offices to sign up for a space heater. Please check back for updates to our supply.— Town of Andover, MA (@AndoverMaGov) September 22, 2018
However, as of 12:30 p.m., the town of Andover experienced a shortage of hot plates "due to a limited supply in the initial delivery." Residents were still encouraged to visit the Town Office and sign up for a space heater.
Residents who live in the affected areas in North Andover told Boston 25 News they waited for about an hour to make a claim to receive a hot plate.
Residents in #NorthAndover lined up to make a claim to receive a hot plate if they live in the affected area. Folks telling me they’ve waited for about an hour before getting in pic.twitter.com/MWwhT4ueAM— Julie Leonardi (@JulieLeonardiTV) September 22, 2018
By Monday, officials are expected to provide 24,000 space heaters to help residents stay warm as temperatures begin to drop.
National Guard respond to the needs of residents affected by the gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley. The guard is assisting with the delivery of hot plates from Columbia Gas. pic.twitter.com/xTLvKC52To— Mass. National Guard (@TheNationsFirst) September 22, 2018
Electricians and fire officials will also be going door to door to make sure hot plates and space heaters can safely run in each home. Gov. Baker said taxpayers are not footing the bill for this.
Residents say they are concerned about the cold weather arriving before gas service is restored.
“The bottom line is Columbia is going to pay for this," said Gov. Baker.
Later this week, in-house assessments will be conducted and go through Nov. 19 as crews continue restoration efforts.
Utility officials pledged Friday to complete the replacement of 48 miles of natural gas pipeline and re-energize 8,600 gas meters individually by Nov. 19.
“The plan looked achievable, thoughtful and safe," said Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera. "Do I want it to be faster, as a person who has taken seven cold showers in this long time? Yeah, I want it to be faster."
Also on Saturday, Columbia Gas hosted a job fair at the Greater Lawrence Technical School from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. The company is looking for skilled plumbers, electricians and IT professionals to help with gas restoration efforts and aid those affected by the explosions and fires.
Officials are hoping to recruit as much help as they can with the restoration efforts while simultaneously offering opportunities for those affected by the explosions and fires.
Currently, 20 crews are working on the gas restoration, but Columbia Gas hopes that number will triple by Monday with the help of the job fair.