More than a week has passed following the deadly gas-fueled explosions in the Merrimack Valley that sparked dozens of fires.

Today, Governor Charlie Baker announced plans to restore Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover and make major infrastructure upgrades.

Columbia Gas is now funneling millions of dollars in money and manpower into the restoration effort.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno told us Friday that the city has a good relationship with Columbia Gas, but there is still cause for concern.

Like everyone else, Sarno is awaiting to find out the cause and plans on having subsequent meetings with the utility giant to ensure safety for all in Massachusetts.

"It's not just about fixing the pipe or fixing out the wall. It's really about getting people back to their normal lives," said Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera.

There's a plan to push forward after a series of gas explosions rocked the Merrimack Valley is set to launch.

"Starting Monday, 24,000 space heaters will arrive in the Merrimack Valley and will be installed in homes that have been rendered safe," Baker explained.

For those without gas still unable to take a hot shower or cook a meal, hot plates and other essentials will soon be distributed - bringing families one step closer to normalcy.

"The team will begin to asses the damage that impacted residents and workplaces. This assessments will be completed by plumbers, electricians, guardsman, translators and assessors to determine what appliances need to be replaced," Baker noted.

All this comes at a cost, but leaders said restoration is priority.

While Columbia Gas has put a planned $33 million rate increase on hold, the restoration efforts will come with a hefty price tag.

Some wonder if the cost would be kicked back to ratepayers, which include many in western Massachusetts.

"The bottom line is Columbia is going to pay for it," Baker said.

The governor was not mincing words.

"The issues with how it gets dispersed are going to get built out through the rate process, which is why we asked Columbia and they agreed to take their current rate filing off the table," Baker noted.

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to the restoration efforts. However, the project is expected to be completed on November 19.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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