Police and fire officials evacuated a half-mile stretch of Beaumont’s North End on Thursday morning, Nov. 1, after crews with the Jefferson County Drainage District struck a 4-inch gas main near Galveston and Wilson streets.
Crews were seen keeping their distance from the main as it loudly spewed odorous natural gas at approximately 10:31 a.m. Crews said the main was struck about 8:30 a.m. By 2:20 p.m., Centerpoint Energy crews had shut off the gas main and had begun repairing the damage. District Operation Manager John Seale said his crews should be through with the repair about midnight Friday, Nov. 2.
BPD officer Troy Dyson was seen walking house to house on Laredo Street warning residents to evacuate the area after crews warned the gas might have entered the area’s sewer system and could seep into their homes.
“Most of 'em are at work,” Dyson said. “A lot of ‘em don’t wanna leave.”
Knocking loudly on each door, Dyson said the situation was dangerous, especially for families in the area.
“I don’t want 'em in there asleep with gas leaking inside their house,” he said. “All the babies in there and so forth.”
Richard LeBlanc, general manager of the Jefferson County Drainage District No. 6, said his crews didn’t know the gas main was there.
“Centerpoint was supposed to have moved them,” he said, referring to multiple gas mains in the area. “But we hit one that was undetectable, evidently, according to them.”
The drainage district’s $8 million drainage project has been replacing aging storm sewers in the area since July and will continue until at least September 2013, LeBlanc said.
Resident Christina Ridley was leaving on a vacation when crews told Ridley and her friends, whose home was mere feet away from the break, they could not leave until the gas line was shut off.
“Now they’re telling her she can’t move her car because BAM!,” Ridley said. “It could ignite something, and things would blow up.”
Ridley said she was still excited about her upcoming vacation.
“I wanted excitement today, but this isn’t what I was expecting,” she said.
LeBlanc said the aging pipes underneath Beaumont’s North End are hard to place and crews might hit others in the future.
“Unfortunately this may not be the last time,” he said.