Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my hometown of Andover, Massachusetts. Without so many great people helping me along the way, I would not be 1/10th the man I am today. A little bit of Andover is in everything I do. I check in daily with AHS special teams coach Peter Reilly, Sr. and the internet. Facebook keeps me up to date on news. I am on two Andover-based Facebook pages. Therefore, the awful gas leak-fire event of last week was a such a scare for me.
Late Thursday afternoon, local gas company lines caused several dangerous fires in three towns in the Merrimack Valley: Lawrence (the hardest hit), North Andover, and my hometown. With gas involved, this was very dangerous, and the entire region was basically shutdown. No power, no hot water, most evacuated their homes. No work, no school, no games, no fun. National grid cut the power to avoid a bigger incident. The Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera and Governor Charlie Baker took control after the gas company did not have an appropriate response in the initial 24 hours. An exploding chimney claimed the life of an 18 yr old young man from Lawrence Thursday. It was a very, very scary situation.
When you play sports in a small town, a lot of your ex-teammates become firemen and police officers. My old AHS football and baseball buddy Peter Reming is a detective with the Andover police. He and his guys kicked ass from day one to today. Bob Stabile is in a leadership position with our fire department and was one of my position coaches at AHS. This small group fought 38 fires. And had assistance from fire departments all over the state. Supermarket and school parking lots became command centers and senior citizens’ homes doubled as shelters. Everyone stuck together in this tough time; I was both incredibly scared and proud at the same time.
I kept tabs on as many friends as I could back home. Social media helps tremendously, and both the town of Andover home page and police department did an amazing job here. Awesome, awesome job. I kept tabs on The Reillys, Perrys, Comeaus, Gillettes, Kerry Lynch and my new friends Krystal, Nancy, Johanna, Betsy, Laura and Sam. One of our freshmen on the Michigan Baseball team is from North Andover and was dealing with many of the same emotions I was. It was horrible to watch and not be able to do anything. Different neighborhoods had different damage and/or situations. But everyone worked together. And my remaining hair fell out. And suddenly selecting my fantasy team’s starting tight end was not priority one. Or 23.
I don’t have much of a family life, but I do have tremendous roots, support and love from my hometown. Lots of my old buddies would be here at 3:05 if I called them at 3. Peter Comeau gave me my nickname that still lives on today and is on this site. Coach Reilly always had an ear at practice and today. Whether I was benched, suspended or wanted to chat TB12. The Perrys always have my back, I had my old quarterback (Matty) and our current coach (E.J. III) at my film event this August. My angel -Laura- came out and volunteered that night. SHE HAD NEVER MET ME.Life is strange sometimes—it can change FAST. Fire, gas and power are terms and strong ones, but people are what matter. And last week drove that fact home. I love my town but without people, its just a piece of land. And the PEOPLE of Andover stepped up. BIG TIME. #BlueAndGoldForever