I feel like I should post something about what happened last night. For me personally, I can summarize by saying that nothing happened at all. However…
Around 4:30 pm yesterday there were a series of gas explosions in towns near mine. Apparently, a gas line was over pressurized or something and it caused somewhere around 70 incidents in the towns of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. When I say incidents I mean, as I heard it last night, either explosions, fires, or calls to 9-1-1 reporting smelling gas. I don’t know how many actual fires or explosions there were, but it was more than enough. After about an hour or so it was announced that all Columbia Gas Company customers in those three towns should evacuate. Later in the evening it was further announced that everyone in the city of Lawrence South of the Merrimack River should evacuate. Also, all power was shut off for all three towns.
I was working from home when it happened. I saw a couple of social media posts shortly after it all started, and I could hear sirens in the distance. When I got off of work at 5:30 I figured out how to stream one of the local TV networks on my iPad and I brought it to the kitchen while I started making dinner for the kids.
I live in Methuen, which was not affected at all, and we have a border with Lawrence that is only a few miles from my house. Andover is right across the Merrimack from us, and North Andover is close enough that we sometimes order take out from a couple of restaurants there. While we were not involved, we were close enough to the action that it seemed prudent to stay as informed as possible. Also, my house is a Columbia Gas customer.
The kids came home a little after 6:00. I gave them dinner and let them know what was going on. They already knew some of it. My step daughter went off to karate class, my step son watched the tube, and I sat at my desk watching the news on my iPad. Jen, my beloved wife, was still at work in Woburn.
I never smelled gas. I never heard a hissing sound that might have been a gas leak. The Methuen Chief of Police was on television saying that there was nothing wrong in the city, and all of our local government social media accounts were telling us we had nothing to worry about. The only thing that affected any of us was the traffic. The ramps to and from route 495 within the city of Lawrence were all closed. The River Road exit off route 93 in Andover was closed this morning and I have to assume it was closed last night as well. The Methuen Police Twitter account (it might have been Facebook, now that I think of it) announced that all ramps to and from routes 495 and 93 within the city would be closed, but I am not sure if that happened or not. Jen had an urgent issue come up at work and it kept her at her desk much later than usual. As a result she spent an hour stuck on 93 starting just before River Road. I had told her to expect to stay on the highway until exit 1 in Salem, NH but I forgot to ask her if she had to go that far or not. I’ll find out. My step daughter was able to get to and from her karate class without issue, but she didn’t use the highway and getting to her class took her further away from the Lawrence line.
By 10:00 I was toast. Jen and both kids were home and there wasn’t much new information being reported, so I called it a night and went to bed. I haven’t had much time to follow the story today (I’m spending my lunch break writing this instead of checking the news) but from what I hear the power is still out, the gas lines are still down, at least some of the highway exits are still closed, and no one seems to know much about what caused it all. It sounds like there were not that many injuries as a result, though there was one fatality.
The fires are out. Cleanup commences. At some point soon Columbia Gas is going to have to answer for all of this. For now though, let’s just keep everyone safe.
And that is what happened last night.