Displaced Northwest Dallas residents wait in long lines for info

People living in the Northwest Dallas neighborhood where gas service was shut off started lined up at 4 a.m. Friday to try to avoid the long lines for information.

Atmos Energy turned off the gas for about 2,800 customers between Walnut Hill Lane, Webb Chapel Road, Northwest Highway and Lakemont Drive on Thursday. People living in the area were warned they could be without service for up to three weeks while crews work to fix faulty pipelines in the neighborhood.

Although the city set up two information centers at the Bachman and Walnut Hill rec centers, many people said they were very frustrated by the lack of communication and misinformation.

“It’s been a big inconvenience. Our city managers have failed us,” said Matthew Dominguez, who lives in the area. “Atmos Energy knew they were going to be open early this morning. They should have been here around the clock, doors open, checks ready so we wouldn’t be inconvenienced anymore.”

People arrived as early as 4 a.m. Friday hoping to get information and a reimbursement check before work. By the time the doors opened at 7 a.m. the line was already out the door.

“I need to get this done because my other half, my husband, had a stroke. I’m the only one who can do this. I have to work today. I have to get this done before the caregiver comes to take care of him while I go to work,” said Denny Hurt.

“I’m not able to cook. I’m not able to have a hot shower. I’m getting here really early so I can get this done before work. So yeah, a little bit inconvenient,” added Lauryn Williams.

When the centers opened Thursday the line wrapped around the building. Many of the people in line Friday morning said they actually gave up after waiting for hours Thursday night.

Atmos is giving each affected household $1,250 in the form of a check or debit card. More money can be requested after five days.

Residents can stay in their homes while the work is being done but many are choosing to stay in a hotel so they have access to a working stove and hot water.

The information centers will be open until 11 p.m. Friday. They’ll open again Saturday at 7 a.m.

Some families are not only staying put in their homes without gas, but going out of their way to support the workers who are making gas line repairs.

Jotseeveh Hernandez has a stocked supply of snacks and goodies in her front yard as a kind gesture.

Jed Allsup shared a video of gas bubbling up outside his home days before the deadly blast nearby. He says he’s still working out a plan for his family’s living arrangements.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said even once the repairs are complete, there will still be work being done on the streets and inside the neighborhood. It could continue through the end of April.

Despite the inconvenience, officials said the work is necessary to prevent another potential tragedy like the explosion that killed 12-year-old Linda “Michellita” Rogers last Friday.

A geotechnical engineer found that the record February rainfall and the water’s weight on the dirt beneath the surface caused underground shifting and excessive pressure on the aging natural gas system. There are leaks throughout the neighborhood.

Based on the engineer’s report, Atmos made the decision to shut down the entire quadrant and wholesale replace all of the gas lines, meters, and everything and anything connected to the delivery of natural gas, officials said.