(Ben Parker/WBZ NewsRadio 1030)
LAWRENCE (24/7 NewsSource) -- Columbia Gas has agreed to pay customers for all losses related to the Merrimack Valley gas explosions on September 13th.
That means the utility will pay claims for bodily injury, property damage, disruption of business, and similar inconveniences. Authorities say the reimbursements can include the cost of switching to oil or electric appliances instead of gas.
Claim centers are open in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover--where gas service is still out, making cooking and heating an issue.
Also today across the Merrimack Valley, the process of handing out space heaters begins. Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said that, before space heaters go to residents, there will be some safety protocols.
"You're not gonna get a space heater, and it's not going to be able to be plugged in, until an electrician has okayed your apartment and your home for a space heater, that it can hold the load," Rivera said.
Officials, including Gov. Charlie Baker, will be meeting with business owners in Lawrence Monday, meetings similar to those held in Andover and North Andover last week. Mayor Rivera said it's a way to help those businesses affected, just like residents.
"We're going to have small business loans," Rivera said. "They're just like any other customer that Columbia Gas has, so any money they spent in dealing with this crisis will be reimbursed."
On Wednesday, crews will be going to all homes and businesses to assess whether or not they're ready for gas restoration--and to identify any appliances that will need to be replaced.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Ben Parker (@radiobenparker) reports