The recovery of gas heat in Rhode Island can take a week or longer

National Grid began door-to-door tedious process Tuesday to restore natural gas service to around 7,000 Rhode Island customers, who were without heat in a day when the temperature did not expect to rise above freezing.

The effort in Newport and Middletown may take a week or longer, Tim Horan, chairman of the utility in Rhode Island, said at a press conference with Gov. Gina Raimondo.

The tool is suspended on Monday after a potentially dangerous pressure loss caused by a supplier's defective valve. In such cases there can be explosions when the pressure is restored, but National Grid excludes the service from an "abundance of caution."

An overpressure issue was accused of multiple explosions, fires and one death in the Lawrence, Massachusetts area, in the fall. Horan said that the current situation was different, and that "the integrity of our system is safe and intact".

"We know that this situation has created a huge challenge for everyone," he said.

Although it was expected that the temperatures would rise to almost 50 degrees later this week, Raimondo urged the residents to find alternative accommodations. She declared the state of emergency and used the National Guard to warm people without heat. She urged people to call 211 to be picked up.

National Grid said it would compensate affected customers for hotel stays.

Elizabeth Brooks, a Newport retiree, knew something was wrong on Monday morning when she opened the fire and nothing happened. Yet she and her husband and their cat stay.

She said she had never felt in danger. "It's just annoying," she said. "We're cold, the house is pretty cool, but we're not going anywhere, we have four fireplaces and an electric blanket for the night, so we're all done."

National Grid technicians go from door to door to restore the gas supply. They will be accompanied by locksmiths and policemen in case they have to go into an unoccupied house.

Several hot water centers were set up in the area and National Grid established a customer service center in a local hotel that still had heat.

Newport Public Schools and Salve Regina University canceled lessons Tuesday although the university said the campus would remain open.

Newport school children are likely to have a week off, said Mayor Jamie Bova, because none of the schools have heat. The police and fire brigade were without heat, but the local hospital has heat, she said.

The lack of heat forced civil servants to close the Newport courthouse.

An Animal Shelter Middletown, the Potter League for Animals, offered to bring pets from people who are unable to take them to shelters or hotels.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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