Our housing division was still under construction when we moved into our new home. We were at the edge of phase three and the next phase was on hold for financial reasons. Three years later infrastructure preparations started for the fourth phase. A main BP gas line runs behind our house with an easement, and one night after dark I heard the sounds of digging on the undeveloped area next to my home. I had not noticed any electrical or gas marks on the ground, and I was disturbed by the fact that construction workers were digging in the dark without clear lines. But I figured they knew what they were doing, and I did not go out to inquire.
The next day I could not get into my housing division no matter what direction I tried. My last attempt allowed me to view my house up the street, and I was stunned to see all types of emergency vehicles, from HASMAT, to EPA, to ambulances, to fire trucks, to police cars, all up and down the street and surrounding my house. I was extra panicked, as my family was involved with a disastrous bus accident carrying children from my house division 3 years before ( see The Bus that Flew Over A Ravine ) . I got out and began to thread my way up the hill, and was detained by police. Of course I just knew it was the gas line, for HASMAT and EPA would not be present for a simple fire, and I started sobbing. They confirmed it and told me my house was in danger of explosion. I had a very ill husband getting discharged from our local hospital, and I had a house in danger with no place to take him. It was a very difficult experience. Off and on over the next 6 weeks we were kicked out while approximately 40000 gallons of gas was removed from the area that seeped into the ground (to the cost of 7 million dollars). Twenty-four hours a day the whole area was bathed in huge lights making it difficult to sleep. And we received no compensation from BP gas company or our developer for our difficulties. No wonder so many people sue. Our lives did return to normal, and now it is a story that I am sure will become a legend in my family.
My husband had pneumonia
and needed hospital care.
Improved, he was to be discharged;
I went home early to prepare
as my “to do” list was quite large.
Distracted, I drove on autopilot;
my thoughts jumbled and in a riot.
Then my world turned upside down.
The neighborhood entrance… blocked?
Confused now, with deep unchanging frown
I drove my car around the back way.
Was I having a bad dream?
What the heck is going on today?
What could these closings mean?
I looked up the hill toward my home
and with incomprehensible shock,
my muscles, motionless, turned to stone.
Emergency vehicles crammed in tight;
my house flooded with flashing lights.
I was frozen and suspended with fright.
Tachycardic, shaking, short on air
I requested permission to go up there.
“Too dangerous,” was their reply.
“The pipeline behind has ruptured.
Your home is in grave danger!”
And my eyes started to tear.
Telling him my story; the kind stranger
gave me five minutes to grab necessary gear.
What to take? I grabbed and ran.
What to do now with my sick man?
“It depends on the wind,” they said.
“For now, you can go across the street .
If it changes, you will have to leave instead.”
Mom said, “Well isn’t this just a treat.
It never rains but it pours.
TV media is once again yours.”
The VP of BP hurried on the scene
to keep his company name in the green.
My dad, always opportunity keen
procured gas cards for his means!
Forty thousand gallons, an environmental strain
poured out of the pipes over silent hours
spread out through the rugged terrain
killing all animals, plants and flowers.
Piecing together the salient facts,
construction workers were to blame.
Ignoring to mark, avoid, or track
the underground lines near the gas main.
This construction band needs the sack,
and a better one found to start again!
The worst part for me, I knew of the digging.
I knew there were no marks on the ground.
But I was too lazy to make the inquiries
that would have been proper and sound.
For six weeks we were bugged day and night.
The wind our nemesis; menacing our house.
When it changed our hearts filled with fright;
We were transiently living in and out.
Praise God our home stayed safe and clear
as a 7 million dollar recovery removed the traces.
Our nerves, when over, were tired with wear.
But at the last day big smiles lit our faces.
And I will have a story to tell for many years.