DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – One day after Atmos Energy made the unprecedented move to shut off natural gas service to nearly 3,000 homes, crews have begun their around-the-clock work to replace all parts of an aging system — including distribution mains, service lines and gas meters.
Atmos representatives set up information center locations at the Bachman Recreation Center at 9655 Webb Chapel Road and the Walnut Hill Recreation located at 10011 Midway Road. Friday afternoon officials with the energy company said more than 830 customers had been to those centers and collected more than $1.25 million in monetary assistance.
The outage zone, just north of Dallas Love Field Airport, stretches across many blocks and is so massive that Atmos brought in crews from from across the country to help get the job done.
Natural gas service was completely shut off in an area, roughly bound by Walnut Hill to the north, Webb Chapel to the west, near Northwest Highway to the south and Lakemont Drive, at noon on Thursday.
Dallas Fire Rescue had linked two house fires and a deadly house explosion natural gas leaks in the area. Some residents said Atmos had opportunities to assess and repair issues because they had been warned.
Dallas resident Rebecca Stone said problems near her home had been going on for years. “We always call and complain about [sic] we can smell gas coming up out of our meters,” she said.
Jed Allsup also lives in the area and said he witnessed a disturbing site just before the house explosion on Espanola Drive. “When we had enough rain last week, natural gas was bubbling up out of the ground,” he explained. “We called them [Atmos] and they were like ‘Okay. Well we’ll be back in about five days to fix it.’”
Since the explosion a week ago today, that took the life of 12-year-old Linda Rogers, Atmos had been providing lodging for dozens of residents who were evacuated and forbidden from returning to their homes… now that number has ballooned to thousands. The shutdown affects the natural gas service for approximately 2,800 homes, apartments and businesses.
Atmos is providing vouchers, valued at $250 a day, for those impacted by the shut off. The money is the same for single-person households or families. Residents will have to reapply for financial assistance every five days, because Atmos officials say their service could be restored in that timeframe.
The Atmos Energy Information Centers are open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Sunday from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.
As it stands, Atmos officials say the area could be without natural gas service for up to three weeks.