Natural Gas Outage Resulted in Long Hours and Hard Work by Many
By Alexandra Cannon, Staff Reporter
The entire City of Groesbeck was affected by the citywide electricity outage on the morning of Tuesday, January 16, and while it was repaired in about an hour, the natural gas outage that followed was a more complicated issue to resolve. The Groesbeck Police Department and Atmos Energy worked together to keep locals informed on the action required to fix the far-reaching problem through Nixle alerts so everyone involved could be updated on progress throughout the reboot process.
Chace Murphy, Manager of Public Affairs at Atmos Energy expressed that an outage of this magnitude is extremely rare.
“The power outage led to a drop in pressure to the system that powers the city of Groesbeck, and for safety reasons, we determined it was best to power down our system,” Murphy said.
On an average day, Atmos has about two dozen employees working in town, but in order to service about 800 meters at businesses and residences throughout Groesbeck, Atmos called in certified and verified statement technicians from across the company and the state to complete the task as fast as possible. Schools were closed due to the icy, inclement weather, so many children spent the day at home without heat for several hours while waiting for a technician to pay their home a visit.
“It's not as simple as electricity or water or things like that,” Murphy explained. “You have to have a person over the age of 18 in the home to make sure the home is safe so we can relight the pilot lights.”
Chief of Police and City Administrator Chris Henson added that turning off each meter took only one technician, but turning them back on took two, lengthening the total amount of time it took for Atmos to complete their work.
“Certified technicians worked around the clock Tuesday, through the night and everyone was working with the technicians to get back on as quickly as possible,” Murphy said.
Though Atmos had about 100 employees working in Groesbeck, there was not a clear timeline for how soon gas would be restored to all homes, though early in the day, Atmos expected to have everyone back online by late Tuesday evening. Chief Henson learned that meters were still being turned off at 5 p.m. and recognized that some citizens would likely be without heat until the early hours of the morning, so he reached out to Pastor John Carabin at Living Proof Church to see about opening a warming center for those in need..
“The city called us and made the request. They typically contact us first because we have made it known that when there's a need, we will meet it,” Carabin said. “We work closely with the PD, FD and Sheriff on a lot of projects so it's become a standard part of the relationship for them to call us.”
To read more of this story, pick up a copy of Thursday's edition of The Groesbeck Journal! You can also subscribe online or call 254-729-5103.