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Monroe permitting process caused a family to go without natural gas

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 7:06 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Debbie Eagle is the daughter of a 95-year-old Monroe resident. She came from Nashville, Tennessee to visit her mother after a year of not being able to see her due to COVID-19. The day Eagle was leaving she smelled gas, so she called Atmos Energy company to examine the issue. This examination caused Atmos to turn off the gas immediately. Which left her 95-year-old mother without natural gas.

Eagle was instructed to get an inspector, and a permit from the City of Monroe but no one was available. This issue cause Eagle’s mother to be without gas for two days.

“She is a complete nervous wreck. You can imagine somebody’s who’s 95 years old, 80 pounds, she frail and she wants to be in her home but it was dangerous. I understand, Atmos had to cut everything off but I had to call the Mayor this morning. I was livid that they’ve let this go on until Wednesday morning,” said Debbie Eagle, the daughter of the 95-year-old woman.

The frustration began once Eagle was told the City of Monroe only had one inspector that was ill and another one that was in training, so she felt like she couldn’t find anyone to help her 95-year old mother get her natural gas turned back on. The main problem that caused concern by Eagle was the fact that the city only has one permit inspector to look over repairs and authorize utilities to be turned back on. Now, the City of Monroe is making changes to its process of handling emergency online permits.

Ellen Hill, Monroe’s Director for Urban Development, says she’s never experienced anyone going without gas for two days in her three years of working in Monroe. Now, she’s working hard to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Due to the lack of inspectors with the City of Monroe, Eagle had to hire a third party to inspect the repairs. Which was an additional cost she wasn’t expecting to spend.

Hill says if the city adds more inspectors, it will raise the cost of each assessment. Currently, the price for an inspector to examine a repair is only $25.00. Hill says the city will also make changes to the online process.

“The process we have now is online, but it’s not as robust or transparent, which is why we’re working on a new system that we should have in the coming months. This will show you exactly when you requested your permit, exactly who responded, and how long it took them to respond,” she said.

“I understand their training is on the own computer, so nobody’s out in the world trying anything during COVID, as you know. So they are telling me something that’s not true because they made a mistake, or they don’t have enough inspectors,” Eagle said.

She continues by adding that she received an apology from Hill on Wednesday, April 23rd. Now she’s happy her mother’s gas is finally back on.

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