Ruptured gas line resulted in water outage, boil notice

Published 12:24 am Wednesday, February 1, 2023

A water main break that recently led to an outage and subsequent boil water notice reportedly occurred after a Port Arthur city employee hit a gas line.

Rosalind Queen, who lives in the 2200 block of Bayou Drive, on Tuesday stood before City Council to make them aware of the situation, as well as to urge training and protocols among city departments.

Queen said the water main broke at approximately 3 a.m. Jan. 21.

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“After calling and sending emails to the water department, a city crew finally showed up around 10 a.m.,” she said. “There were several employees looking at the mess in my front yard, probably collecting overtime since it was on a Saturday.

“Now what should have been done for a routine line repair turned into a dangerous situation that was due to apparent shortcuts and no one following policy or protocol. What should have happened was that the city employees should have called before digging.”

Part of a national system, Texa811 was founded in 1984. By calling 8-1-1, utility companies are alerted to visit a worksite and mark their utilities.

Queen said an employee digging on her property did not call, resulting in response by Texas Gas Service and the Port Arthur Fire Department.

“This also shut down the entire Lakeside Park addition,” she said. “No one had water at all for hours.”

A boil water notice was issued for that area by the city Jan. 21 and rescinded the following day.

In addition to the work issue, the Port Arthur woman said she felt disrespected by one of the public works employees.

“The city employee had the audacity to argue with me on my property about whose fault this was,” she said. “It’s apparent to me that city employees should attend all training provided by the HR department, which should include but not be limited to customer service. It’s not the customer that is always right. But when city employees become disrespectful and confrontational with the citizens of Port Arthur, it is not acceptable in my book.”

Queen said she deserved an apology.

“This apology is the responsibility of your employee and not the mayor and council,” she said. “Things of this nature probably happen to citizens more than they will admit for fear of retaliation by employees.”

Queen was in attendance Tuesday at the request of Councilman Kenneth Marks.

“We live in the same neighborhood, and my water was off too. She expressed to me a concern for what had happened,” he said. “And my question to her at the time was whether or not 8-1-1 was called. Because anytime you dig in an easement, whether you are a private citizen or a municipal employee, we have protocol that we have to follow.”

Marks suggested Queen speak in the regular city council meeting as a reminder to employees regarding safety precautions and protocol.

Mayor Thurman Bartie thanked her for speaking, and apologized for any misconduct by a city employee.