Columbia Gas Company held three open houses and public forums on Saturday for residents of the affected communities of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover to voice their concerns with executives. 

Displaced residents, trouble with claims and unheard voices have been a direct result of the region's gas disaster.

"I'd like to start today by apologizing," said Chief Recovery Officer Joe Albanese, during the Lawrence forum. "This project is extremely complex."

Concerned residents packed the forums to voice their struggles in a desperate search for answers.

Pleas for help ranged from frustrations with rude claims adjusters, residents being displaced to many different hotels, hot plates not working, and concerns with pipes possibly bursting as temperatures dip. 

Dave Cook, an Andover resident said the lack of communication of a true timeline for when heat will be restored "causes tremendous amounts of anxiety."

Many voiced their frustration with claims adjusters for Columbia Gas, saying the overwhelming workload placed on the adjusters is the result of poor communication. 

"It has been a dramatic and life changing experience," said Lawrence mother Katty Alcantara. Alcantara and her two children, a five-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son will be transferred to their fourth hotel in the past week.

Alcantara asked the board to provide some sort of psychiatric treatment for children who have been effected by this disaster. She added that it's a frustrating feeling not to be able to do anything for her kids.

A Lawrence school administrator, who declined to give his name, said he has never seen such poor behavior by students starting the school year during his 17-year tenure. He blamed the gas disaster, adding that it has mentally impacted students' education in a negative manner.

Other residents voiced concerns for their older homes, holding executives accountable for the delays due to new found asbestos, something Columbia Gas indicated it didn't anticipate during their original repair plans.

"Thank you for admitting you let us down," said Andover resident Larry Newman, who termed Columbia Gas' efforts as "too little, too late."

Newman says it hasn't been over 51 degrees in his older home, and the $24 Black & Decker hot plate is not enough.

Rebecca Joyner, an Andover mother of three, voiced her concerns with the lack of communication leading to no gas for herself or her children. "How cold is too cold to put a two-year-old to bed?" she asked.

Though each heat return date is home specific, Lawrence resident and Andover Realtor Nick Patrakis stressed how important it is for a homeowners to speak with their insurance companies to ensure they are covered if a pipe bursts in their home due to a lack of heat, during the coming cold winter.  

"It's up to you as an owner," Petrakis told the crowd, while adding the forum was helpful in bringing good information to the residents. 

Despite the residents' concerns over the negative restoration experiences, Bryant assured residents that "every home that we will be touching will be safer than it was before this incident happened."

Andover Board of Selectman Chair Alex Vispoli said there has been a "lack of communication and follow-up" from Columbia Gas to residents, and the meeting was a great opportunity for the executives to hear how this incident has directly affected residents throughout the Merrimack Valley. 

Columbia Gas encouraged residents to mitigate issues with a private plumber if they so chose, but this service is an expensive one. Andover resident Josephine Mckone has spent about $16,000 in restoration efforts for her home. Claims for a private plumber would be covered, gas officials said.

Bryant said he was "amazed people were so courteous to us (the board)" during the meetings, which he said was a "demonstration of the resiliency of the communities."  

Though Bryant said Albanese was reluctant to push back the original Nov. 19 heat restoration date, he said employees of Columbia Gas have "been working hard" and "these kinds of meetings become inspirational to them."