Customers, not so much. But community needs were high this week ... three towns not ten miles away from Quilters' Quarters were involved in what federal agencies called " Absolute Devastation" when the natural gas pipes leading to 8000 private homes and businesses in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, Massachusetts (known as The Merrimack Valley) were overpressurized and caused three major explosions and more than 70 structure fires, simultaneously.
Fire fighters, local and state police and first responders answered the first alarm call for mutual aid from scores of towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire; Red Cross set up shelters in local public buildings in each area, and the governor of Massachusetts declared all three municipalities in a state of emergency. Homeowners were told to evacuate the areas and relocate in those shelters or with relatives or friends out of the area. Schools were cancelled ... all non-emergency municipal workers were asked to stay home and away from the area. Highway exits were closed for the weekend to the affected area, and all electricity was turned off to avoid any further sparks, as leaking gas pipes was a strong possibility. After all the fires were out, teams made up of a firefighter, police officer, gas company representative and electric company representative were assigned to go door to door and make sure that ALL 8,000 GAS METERS WERE TURNED OFF. Modern homes have gas meters on the outside, easily accessible ... but many homes in these areas are older, and entrance to the home had to be made ... hence, the police officer on each team. And then street by street, permissions to return to homes were given by the officials who deemed dwellings safe to re-enter.
This all began on Thursday afternoon. Permission to re-enter was not given to most until Saturday evening. Even then, there were Facebook reports of a new fire that started because a returning homeowner's meter had not been turned off, and upon entering and turning something on, a fire was ignited. Unconfirmed reports that the street of that home had been 'missed' and the meters were not turned off began to circulate. The public's confidence was shattered by this report. Some are still being cared for in shelters, waiting for a safe return.
I learned Friday that a local resident in the next town would be bringing supplies to the shelters in Lawrence to assist those homeowners staying there for the duration. I 'pulled an all nighter' Friday (something I hadn't done in decades) and was able to make up five juvenile quilts and got them to his home early Saturday morning in time to be included in the delivery. I was astonished at the collection of bottles of water, packages of disposable diapers, boxes of infant formula and so much more that he had gathered in those overnight hours ... I did put out a call to local quilters to join in the effort, but if they saw the call on Facebook they were unable to respond on such short notice ... it is likely that some were able to make quilt donations directly to shelters near them. I choose to believe that. Quilters are like that.
There was one death ... a young man sitting in a car outside one of the homes that suddenly exploded;th e home's chimney fell on top of the car he was sitting in. Some victims are still in hospital ... some were able to receive care and be released, but not to their homes ... The kind man who delivered the goods to the Lawrence shelter, including my humble quilts, told me they had an infant at the shelter with the mother, who had just come home from the hospital the day before the explosions happened. My heart broke for that family, but I was glad,knowing he would get one of those quilts to the baby.
There is a larger catastrophe currently in process ... flooding and evacuations facing families in the states of North and South Carolina. If I hear of a nation-wide call for donations (as I did and responded to a few years ago for the Idaho wildfires) I will let you know here or on Facebook. Though the needs are great, I believe our communities of quilters are up to the calls, and invite you to tune in and share what you can.
As always, thanks for reading my shop's blog. Please feel free to forward this email (if you're reading this in email) or share the URL of the page with your friends and family. And if the posted schedule doesn't work for you, give me a call and we can set up a time more convenient to your own schedule.