As utilities struggle to restore gas to thousands of homes in the Merrimack Valley, members of those communities are looking back at what happened in their homes – and looking ahead with anxiety.
Community members gathered at the St. Mary of the Assumption Church Thursday night for a “community listening session” hosted by a local multifaith group, The Merrimack Valley Project.
After the meeting, three women spoke with WGBH News about their experiences and concerns.
Kimberly Boutin lives in one of the dozens of homes that caught fire last week. “I think we were really lucky,” Boutin said. “It was only the basement that had a fire, and I see a lot of my neighbors that are permanently displaced.”
Anna Javier, the president of the Merrimack Valley Project, lives on the north side of Lawrence and has working gas in her stove, but is scared to use it. She says a friend was scared about grilling outside this week, out of fear of nearby gas leaks. “They’re afraid because we don’t have a definite answer, we really don’t have a definite answer as to what happened in reality, and everything that is fixed,” Javier said. “So if we had, like clear answers I think we would feel more comforttable.”
Among those community members feeling anxious and looking for answers is Katherine Reyes, who lives in South Lawrence. “I haven’t been the same,” Reyes said. “I haven’t been able to sleep for days. I finally slept, like for a couple of hours yesterday at my mom’s. Going back home feels like – it doesn’t feel safe.”
To hear more from these residents, click on the audio player above.