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In Merrimack Valley Gas Explosion Aftermath, Hot Plates And A Job Fair

National Guardsmen walk through the streets of Lawrence on Saturday, distributing hot plates to residents who were left without gas. (Quincy Walters/WBUR)
National Guardsmen walk through the streets of Lawrence on Saturday, distributing hot plates to residents who were left without gas. (Quincy Walters/WBUR)
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National Guardsmen rolled through the streets of Merrimack Valley municipalities on Saturday to help distribute hot plates to residents whose homes still have no gas service in the aftermath of natural gas explosions and fires in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

One resident who came to get a hot plate, Deb Putnam, says it was getting really hard cooking without her gas stove. “The first night we were home, I was going to put some pasta on and stir-fry zucchini. And I went, ‘uh no! I can’t do that.’ So, I’m looking up, ‘Can I cook pasta in a microwave?’ Supposedly, you can. I didn’t try it. We came up with plan B.”

Putnam says before Saturday, she was getting worried, since the restaurants in the area still aren’t open and there’s no guaranteed date that the area will get gas.

As it begins its restoration effort, Columbia Gas is also looking for temporary workers. The company held a job fair at the Greater Lawrence Technical School in Andover on Saturday to try to recruit.

The utility says that going forward, it will be doing repairs in neighborhoods where the primary language isn’t English.

Gloria Espada came to interview for an interpreter job. She says her adult children don’t have gas. “So what better than to have the opportunity to improve the process?” she says. “The holidays are coming, I was working part-time currently, taking care of my elderly mother. So, it’ll work very well.”

Columbia Gas say they’re looking for bilingual plumbers, electricians, IT workers and customer service representatives.

Related:

Quincy Walters Twitter Reporter
Quincy Walters is a general assignment reporter for WBUR.

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