Updated: Monday, 07 Feb 2011, 9:16 AM MST
Published : Saturday, 05 Feb 2011, 6:41 PM MST
SANTA FE (KRQE) - In cooperation with Espanola Mayor Alice Lucero and Taos Mayor Darren Cordova, Governor Susana Martinez announced today that approximately 50 members of the New Mexico National Guard will assist gas company technicians in their efforts to complete the process of restoring natural gas service to residents of Espanola and Taos Sunday.
“The National Guard will greet homeowners and business owners, letting them know that gas company technicians are in their area, and will work with residents to ensure a clear, accessible path to gas meters, furnaces, and appliances,” Governor Martinez said.
Throughout the day today, natural gas meters have been fully shut off, the gas lines have been purged, and re-lighting is either underway or has been completed in the following communities: Red River, Questa, Bernalillo, Placitas, Alamogordo, Tularosa, La Luz and Silver City. The purging process is nearly complete in Taos and underway in Espanola, with re-lighting expected to begin in Taos and Espanola this evening.
To date, there have been few reports of failed inspections during the re-lighting process. Residents of Taos and Espanola, in particular, are encouraged to remain close to their homes throughout the day tomorrow and remove any debris, snow, or other items that might be placed near gas meters, furnaces and appliances.
Over 400 utility employees, fire fighters, plumbers and pipefitters are working throughout the affected communities to restore natural gas and will continue their work late into the evening tonight. Governor Martinez has also announced that plumbers and pipefitters who sign up to help restore natural gas service in New Mexico will be exempt from certain unemployment rules. “Those who are answering the call to assist New Mexicans in regaining their heating will not be inhibited from receiving future unemployment benefits,” she said.
If any licensed plumber or pipefitter would like to work tonight or tomorrow to help in this effort, they are encouraged to call 505-798-3317.
Residents and business owners who are not present when gas company technicians arrive will have a tag placed on their doors with instructions on how to contact the gas company for a return visit.
“If any New Mexican is unsure about whether someone approaching their door is a licensed technician, they can call 1-888-664-2726 to have the identity and credentials of the individual verified,” Governor Martinez said.
Fire safety and pipe thawing tips are available on the Governor’s website at www.gov.state.nm.us and on the website of the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management at www.nmdhsem.org. Emergency shelters will continue to be in place this evening, and a list of shelters can be found at either of these websites as well.
“To the people of New Mexico: I am thankful for your patience, and for the grace with which you have banded together to support and look after one another during this challenging time,” Governor Martinez said.
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