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Merrimack Valley Residents Without Gas Service Brace For Cold Nights

LAWRENCE (CBS)- The timing of this cold snap couldn't be worse for families in the Merrimack Valley who still don't have gas to heat their homes. Thousands of people are without heat or only have space heaters right now, and those will definitely be tested overnight.

"In the middle of the frustration we try to be creative," Lawrence resident Ana Camareno said.

She is doing just that.

"We buy this fan that is a heater," Camareno said.

"Open the water first... put this extension to a special cable in the bathroom," Camareno explains.

She hired an electrician to connect a tank-less electric water heater to her kitchen sink and her shower, all through a cable connected to her fuse box in the basement. She calls it survival.

"I need to stay. There's no way I can leave my property in somebody else's hands," she said.

Juan Vellar
Juan Vellar tries to keep warm in Lawrence home (WBZ-TV)

All throughout her neighborhood workers with Columbia Gas continue the massive effort to reconnect hundreds of homes that have been without gas for five weeks now. But Thursday, the temperatures plummet.

"Winter is coming and I have to be ready," Camareno said.

Tammy Couture has not been so lucky preparing for the oncoming cold. Since her apartment is not up to code, she was left with her own aging space heaters even she admits are a safety hazard.

"I don't leave them on at night because I don't trust them," Couture said.

She blocks off rooms with blankets to try to contain the heat, and braces for tomorrow.

"It's all we can do, just one day at a time," Couture said.

There is a hopeful sign for residents, new pipes in their streets that are now gas ready, but they still need new equipment put inside and inspected.

Juan Vellar has been told that his gas will be reconnected next week, which is ahead of schedule. That's good news for him, since he is struggling to spread the heat.

His electric fireplace only gives off enough heat if you are standing right next to it. These resident have been taking matters into their own hands for as long as they have to.

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