FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A complaint about cold showers alerted Fort Worth and Atmos Energy to a complicated problem for a senior resident, which they fixed with a simple, cost-free solution.
Norma Thoms now has hot water again in her home in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, and new gas lines with no leaks.
A Fort Worth-based plumber completed the repairs at no charge Thursday, July 1 after a flurry of calls and emails between the city and the natural gas supplier to track down the problem.
Thoms called city code compliance Wednesday after living with no hot water for more than a week. The senior believed it was related to recent utility work near her home, but didn’t know the details.
Code enforcement passed the issue to risk management, who called Becca Owens, a customer solutions analyst who would be able to find out what projects were in the area.
Owens determined Thoms’ gas had been shut off since a city contractor damaged a gas line nearby, and during repairs, Atmos discovered a leak in Thoms yard and likely her home.
“So they wanted to get into the home to run some tests, but the resident was unfamiliar with the process, very uncomfortable, so she shut herself inside the house and stopped communicating,” Owens said.
Leaks on a homeowner’s property are their responsibility to fix. In this case though it was clear to those involved they may have to step in to help.
Owens said a supervisor for their inspections group called Tommy Davis with Atmos, a 48-year veteran of the company who oversees distribution to customers.
He called Dennis Salas, whose Lone Star Plumbing works regularly with the utility, and met him at house.
Atmos often puts customers in touch with its energy assistance department, using donations and partnerships with social service agencies to provide bill relief.
In this case, once Thoms opened the door for Davis and spoke to him, he told Atmos management it really required a different type of help.
Salas’ crews went to work Thursday morning, running new gas lines through the house, a new line to the street, a new meter location. It had added up to nearly $3,000 worth of work, but Salas wasn’t charging Thoms a dime.
Sitting in her front living room, as plumbers walked in and out Thursday, Thoms just smiled, saying she was thankful, and blessed.
“They looked at the person, the circumstances and the situation and made a choice that really benefitted her,” Owens said.