Saturday, November 12, 2005

Touched and Gasless

I was quite touched by the fact that several of my colleagues--knowing I live in Lexington--stopped by my office on Thursday morning to make sure my house wasn't affected by Wednesday's explosion and fire, or the ensuing gas-supply shut-off and evacuation. Nice bunch of people I work with. (And a shout-out to my faithful readers who also commented their concern.)

While the evacuation ended quickly, the issue of gas supply is still open. At 5 p.m. last night (Friday), KeySpan still hadn't restored natural gas to a large part of Lexington, especially the area including and surrounding the town center. The company is digging holes everywhere around that area, and businesses that rely on natural gas--chiefly restaurants--found themselves still without a fuel.

According to an article in the online version of the Lexington Minuteman, daily losses are hurting the local businesses hard. No gas for cooking or heating water means closed doors. .
Lexington Center looked more like a western ghost town late Thursday morning rather than the sidewalk bustle typical from early lunchers and coffee-seekers.

Most food-service businesses on either side of the Massachusetts Avenue marketplace were shut down due to a nearby residential gas explosion that occurred yesterday morning. Gas-powered ovens and water heaters are by far the norm for the industry, and the shutoff has led many to shut their doors for the entire day.

Daniel Hebenstreit, manager of Not Your Average Joe’s, said the loss of the previous day’s dinner business and Thursday’s closing could cost the restaurant between $5,000 and $7,000.
(And this is not to mention no hot water for showers or clothes washing in the homes around the town center.)

That article appeared Thursday. By last night, nothing had changed. I called my son's favorite Indian place, Khushboo, and after numerous rings, someone picked up. Are you open yet, I asked?

"No--we still don't--we don't have any gas yet. Maybe tomorrow--definitely not tonight," he said sadly, another night's revenue gone. Alexander's Pizza, which is well away from the town center, also had no gas, which meant no pizzas. Ironically, the soon-to-open Upper Crust Pizza on Waltham Street was originally scheduled to have its gas meter installed the day after the explosion.

Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt at 3 Hancock St. And thankfully, no other houses caught fire or blew up. Compared to other natural disasters this year, we were all lucky. Though it looks like an investigation is going to show that this disaster was not exactly "natural," given the discovery that the gas lines near the town center appear to have been dangerously overpressurized.

So now it's time to get things back to safety and normalcy. According to KeySpan's website, gas is being restored zone by zone. Some streets have their gas back on, others won't get it till tomorrow. Fortunately, this is New England, so everyone should have a supply of blankets and sweaters.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home