Q: Sometime in October you had an article about the gas explosions in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. That article focused on preventative measures for folks who use natural gas. How are things going in the aftermath of this accident?
A: As we move from crisis to restoration for those affected, we are stronger and more integrated than ever before. The word “community” has taken on special meaning as we have been witness to countless examples of people coming together to support each other. Stories of neighbors helping neighbors, and community members helping businesses bounce back have been heartwarming and abundant. Tragedies have a way of breaking down our biases and growing the human spirit. Unfortunately, tragedies such as this one or the devastating fires in California are a constant reminder of the fragility of life.
Over the past few months, it has been an honor to work with a team of colleagues whose passion and commitment reinforce our purpose. The three communities affected have joined together, and public and private officials, Columbia Gas, as well as numerous nonprofit agencies have worked collectively to help those in need. Emergency assistance sites have been established, thousands of calls and home visits conducted, and financial support distributed to help people meet immediate needs. I am also very proud of the Elder Services staff who have been providing outreach and case management services since the crisis began, and the sense of community that is fostered in our efforts to help residents rebuild their lives.
Regrettably, the effort to get people back in their homes is taking longer than expected. Columbia Gas and their partners are working hard to restore service and meet the immediate needs of those at risk as temperature’s drop and holidays are just around the corner. Columbia Gas is offering Thanksgiving dinner for anyone affected by the gas situation (ColumbiaGasMA.com/Thanksgiving). Agencies including Elder Services are continuing to assess and address practical concerns as well as the emotional trauma experienced by residents with this unexpected accident. There is a wonderful and informative website that people can access to learn about all that is available for assistance. The website address is www.wearelawrence.org. Our Information and Referral Department is also available to help you at 1-800-892-0890 or 1-978-683-7747.
Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-892-0890.
Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc., Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the CEO of Elder Services.