DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It has been two weeks since an Atmos gas leak caused a house explosion in northwest Dallas that killed a 12-year-old girl. Now, neighbors on one street said that the gas company isn’t keeping its promises to keep them safe.
People on El Rito Street were among the first to be evacuated. The deadly explosion happened Friday, February 23, and they were evacuated that same night.
Now, they said that the money Atmos Energy promised them until they replaced the pipes has dried up. Angelica Canales said that her parents were denied the monetary assistance being offered to affected Atmos customers. “Keep your money, but we need our pipelines fixed,” said Canales. “We care about our safety rather than the compensation.”
Canales said that her parents had been told that their gas was off and they needed to leave their home on February 23.
This is what Atmos Energy promised to do to keep them safe during a March 1 press conference announcing the planned outage of gas to more than 2,800 people. “(We will) begin to replace every distribution main in the area, every service line in the area,” said John Paris, President of the Mid-Tex Division for Atmos. “We will test all house piping… and we will also do a inspection with our technician of all their appliances.”
While they were out of their homes and the gas was restored, Atmos said that it would pay for hotel rooms and food for residents. “We are going to do the absolute best we can to take care of the members of this community while they are going through this disruptive process,” said Mike Haefner, President and Chief Operating Officer of Atmos.
Atmos told all those customers to come back every five days to get more money until their gas returned. “They said you’re not in the affected area and you’re not receiving compensation because your gas is on and it has been on,” said Canales.
The residents claimed that no one ever came to their home to do any safety testing, replace pipes or to even alert them that the gas was back on. Most of the neighbors on El Rito Street are in the same boat. “They’re not keeping their word,” said Adriana Garcia. “They promised to replace the pipes.”
Atmos Energy responded to our request for comment, saying that the company’s records do not show that those residents are in the affected area. However, multiple residents are adamant that they were evacuated by Dallas Fire-Rescue.
Atmos did send a crew to Elena Razo’s home after she and her neighbors got together and complained. Razo was so scared to have gas on without a safety inspection that she asked them to turn it off, and she still doesn’t feel safe. “The others have gas and I don’t,” said Razo, “but what if their house explodes and kills me, too?”