Elder Services’ response to the gas explosion tragedy in Lawrence, Andover, North Andover
October 1, 2018

Q:  I live in Newburyport and feel so bad for what happened in Lawrence and the other towns with the gas explosions. I am curious the impact that had on agencies like yours who work in Lawrence. Can you shed some light on how an agency like yours responds to such an immediate tragedy?

A:   Last month I tuned in media reports on the progress of hurricane Florence. My hopes were the destruction would not be as massive as predicted. Little did I know towns that I have had a personal link to my entire life would also experience a heart wrenching devastation. My first reaction was shock quickly followed by concern for residents of those communities impacted.

I would later be informed 75 of our staff members were either evacuated and/or lost their utilities for an extended period of time. I knew without a doubt our dedicated workforce would pull together to assist the elderly clients we work with and others who came to our attention. None of us know how long it will take for some sense of normalcy to return to all those who impacted. We understand for some folks, their lives have been irrevocably changed. Putting lives back together takes a long time.

Elder Services staff were on the front lines immediately – working in collaboration with shelters, Councils on Aging, and local organizations to provide assistance, feed people, distribute needed supplies and connect affected elders with loved ones. One vital strength of our agency has always been connecting individuals with resources available..helping them to access benefits needed to rebuild, to find the shelter and safety of community once again. I am very proud of the effort all of our staff demonstrated, everyone chipped in from fiscal staff to administrative support staff to our case managers and nurses. Everyone at the agency is involved in relief efforts, we are here to stay and will not forget you in the days to come.

I write this letter so that you know we are here to help you. Please call 1-800-892-0890 and ask to speak to the Age Information Department. This is the “front door” to access the services and benefits you may need. We welcome your call.

Thank you and be safe!
Joan Hatem-Roy
Chief Executive Officer

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