City of Abilene responds to major neighborhood gas leak

POSTED: 10:46 AM Mar 11 2013   UPDATED: 7:37 PM Feb 28 2013
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ABILENE, Texas -

The city of Abilene was prepared when they received an early morning call Thursday about a gas leak in the 1900 block of Ballinger Street.

Abilene Water Utility crews had accidentally severed a two-inch natural gas line while they were working on a water line on Ballinger Street between Willis and Barrow, which caused a significant amount of gas to leak into the residential neighborhood.

The leak forced the evacuation of residents along Ballinger and Fulton streets.

"They knocked on the door and said there's been a big gas leak and we need for everybody to evacuate. Put on some warm clothes and get down to the stop sign. So that's what i did," said Marylin Trabold, an evacuated resident.

"They just told us they had a gas leak and for everyone to get down to the end of the street where the CityLink bus was waiting for us," said evacuated resident Carl Opitz.

The city of Abilene plans for these emergencies year-round.

"We practice for all hazards so no matter what causes the problem, we're prepared to deal with it," said Jim Bryan, emergency management coordinator for the city of Abilene.

In this case, it was a hazardous gas leak, but Bryan said they are ready for anything.

"No matter how it happens, we're going to respond the same. That's the important thing. That we're always ready. We try to get there as quickly as we can and we just do the best and work together and we practice how we play," Bryan said.

Since evacuated residents had to wait until it was safe to return home, CityLink buses were used as temporary shelter.

"That was nice. That was a nice gesture," Trabold said.

"I think that's very nice of them," Opitz said.

Bryan said that while fixing the problem is important, looking after residents is top priority.

"We want to take care of the folks. Especially in our city," he said

There are plans in place for longer evacuations as well. City officials said they would set up a shelter and even provide food if needed.