Winona residents reflect on night without heat

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

WINONA, TX (KLTV) - It could not have happened at a worse time. Gas lines in one East Texas town, freeze up, leaving hundreds without heat. City officials say it started at the Gulf South gas compression station about seven miles south of Winona. A buildup of condensation froze, cutting off the gas supply to the entire town.

It is a home comfort turned winter-time necessity, and Tuesday night, Mitch Shamburger did not have it.

"All of a sudden around 2 or 2:30 this morning it got cold, felt like a breeze blowing through the house," said Shamburger.

The gas heating he relied on stopped.

"I went and got some extra cover and piled it on the bed," said Shamburger.

As Shamburger fell back asleep, Winona City Manager James Bixler was woken up and informed his city was without heat.

"[The] maintenance guy on call got a phone call around 2:30," said Bixler.

Nearly seven miles away, Bixler says pipes at the Gulf South compression station were frozen, cutting off the city's supply of natural gas. Quickly, crews got to work.

"[We were] knocking on people's doors at four o'clock in the morning making sure everyone's alright," Bixler said.

Outdoor gas lines were shut off for safety if no one answered. Luckily, Johnny Dingler did.

"If the coffeepot would've come on, if the cigarette would've been lit or anything, a match, that would have been it," said Dingler. "It was odd, ya know you're looking out the window going who's here this time of the morning."

Crews hustled to fix the freeze, fortunately, limited to only those in Winona City limits.

"They've installed heaters on them now so shouldn't have a problem with them again," said Bixler. "You talk about it, you plan for it, but until you actually go do it, you don't know how to react to it. But it went real well."

Quick thinking that will bring East Texans warm nights to come.

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