A new online tool unveiled by Atmos Energy Saturday evening will hopefully make it easier for customers to know when they can call to re-establish service.
Atmos Energy director of governmental and public affairs Steve Matthews said that the “mobile-friendly interactive map” is available on the company’s website and “permits residents impacted by the planned outage to input their address and see if their home is ready for service reconnection.”
“The app is available both in Spanish and English,” he said.
Matthews said that both the Bachman and Walnut Hill recreation centers, which have been serving as information centers and distribution points for monetary assistance, had gotten an injection of increased volunteers.
“More than 50 Atmos Energy volunteers are on site today along with CERT volunteers to assist customers at both information centers,” he said.
Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune said that the city and Atmos also worked together to plan for an influx in activity at both centers midweek as customers return to renew their weekly per diem payments.
“Services will continue at both information centers through the weekend, with additional capacity for service provision planned for the Tuesday through Thursday of next week,” he explained. “This is the period of anticipated peak activity as residents return to the information centers for renewal of financial assistance.”
Fortune said that making changes to how the two centers work will also hopefully mean residents won’t have to wait as long in line, should the centers see the kind of traffic they received Thursday night, when the assistance was first offered to the 2,800 customers who were affected by a massive gas service shut down that followed after a fatal home explosion on Feb. 23.
The centers now have a welcome and direct deposit information desk that can direct residents to the correct location within the centers. Mobile greeters have been equipped with iPads to help verify addresses and customer information as residents arrive, which should make the lines move quickly and get customers to checkout and verification tables faster.
Those checkout and verification stations are also seeing increased staffing and will be able to see more customers at a time, and they will be organized by street name, alphabetically.
Those receiving a per diem will also be able to opt for direct deposit of those funds. “Residents choosing this option will have renewal of financial assistance deposited to their accounts eliminating the need for a return to the information centers,” Fortune explained. In addition, reloadable debit cards will also be distributed to residents, and residents that opt for that will see subsequent funds automatically renewed, without needing to visit the information centers.
And for the customer that might have an issue, an escalations table has been created so those issues can be addressed separately.
Atmos is providing about 50 volunteers, and the Dallas Community Emergency Response Team volunteers are filling in more spots.
The increased numbers of volunteers also means that residents are currently in and out of the center within about 15 minutes or less, Fortune said. So far, 1,192 residents have received assistance, he said.
Our goal with the plan detailed is to ensure excellent services to our residents during this difficult time. City Staff and Atmos will continue to evaluate this plan and will conduct a full test of these enhancements on Monday to ensure that we are jointly prepared to meet the needs of our residents,” Fortune said. “I greatly appreciate the patience and understanding that our residents have shown during this time and we are committed to using every resource available to continue to meet all needs.”