GEORGETOWN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - More families are now being let back into their homes in Georgetown. Those still evacuated are left wondering when it will be their turn to return home.
It’s now been more then 4 weeks since an initial report of a gas leak sparked the evacuation for dozens of homes and businesses in the Williams Drive area. Crews continue to work weeks later, trying to remove the natural gas trapped in the soil.
Atmos tells us they have lifted a total of 25 evacuations since the beginning, this mostly includes homes but also some businesses. While it appears to be progress in what seemed like a never ending problem there is no word yet for the other 100 buildings still evacuated or if more evacuations are on the way.
“A lot of people right now are arguing because they want to go back inside their house,” said Pedro Ochoa. His home is right next ground zero, the area where a gas leak was found near Williams Drive in Georgetown. “I got out of there as quickly as possible just as they ordered,” said Ochoa.
Before the gas leak was reported, Ochoa said he wasn’t feeling well at home.
“I would sit down and go to sleep anywhere. I would sit down in the sofa I would go to sleep, I wake up and sit on the chair eat dinner my wife said what’s wrong with you. Said I don’t know I’ll go see a doctor I don’t feel good,” said Ochoa.
It was shorty after when someone came to visit where they smelled a pungent odor and knew there must be a gas leak somewhere. “She said if I were you I would report it cause it’s dangerous especially inside the house,” said Ochoa.
It wasn’t long until crews were at his house but the problem turned out to be much bigger then Ochoa expected. Atmos reported they found several leaks in the area and with the natural gas in the soil, evacuations began starting with Ochoa’s home.
“Guy read the meter he put inside my house he said your the first guy I’m going to put out and your going to be the last one in,” said Ochoa.
For more then 4 weeks Ochoa and dozens of other families have been living in nearby hotels all paid for by Atmos. He says just about everyone is homesick. “At home you can do whatever you want to, in here you have to obey the rules you have here,” Said Ochoa.
Businesses were left to either work at a temporary location or temporarily shutdown.
Crews working around the clock to remove the natural gas.
“I would drive by and ask them how y’all doing,” said Ochoa.
More then a month later it seems progress is being made. This week, more then 25 evacuations have finally been lifted but this ordeal is far from over. 56 businesses and 58 homes still remain closed off with no word on when people can return.
Ochoa said he has no choice but to wait it out. “I’m 81 years old and I don’t want nothing to happen to me you know my wife is 80 and I don’t want her to suffer in anyway,” said Ochoa.
For now, Ochoa is urging everyone in the same boat to be patient. He said he would rather wait and make sure the area is safe then rush back and risk sparking a bigger problem.
While there is still no word yet on the other evacuations in place, the City of Georgetown said they plan on having a big event for the area when it does open in an effort to help the hurting businesses.