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Why no disaster declaration after Atmos Energy gas leak in Georgetown?

As many Georgetown homes and businesses have been evacuated for weeks, some are asking why the City hasn't issued a disaster declaration.

GEORGETOWN, Texas — After many homes and businesses remain evacuated due to a Feb. 20 gas leak by Atmos Energy, many are wondering why the City of Georgetown hasn't issued a disaster declaration.

Disaster declarations give city officials the ability to exercise powers such as providing liability protection to government agencies and emergency workers or to formally request assistance from state and federal governments.

“The City does not have oversight of pipeline safety,” said Mayor Dale Ross. “That role rests with the Texas Railroad Commission. Simply declaring a local disaster does not make new or different resources available that are not already being provided. The City is in regular contact with both Atmos and our partners at Williamson County and the State to ensure this evacuation is brought to resolution as safely as possible.”

The City said Atmos has made safety its top priority and the company provided hotel accommodations and food stipends for affected residents. The amount of the stipends are adjusted based on each individual household. Those accommodations far exceed what the CIty said it would have been able to provide to the evacuees.

RELATED: Georgetown business owners want to know more after gas leak causes evacuation

“To further ensure a safe and expedient resolution, I have formally requested the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) to begin an assessment of this situation,” said Mayor Ross. “Should the situation evolve, the City stands prepared to declare a disaster and call on additional resources from our fellow governmental agencies.”

According to the City, Atmos also paid claims and remains committed to processing those claims for affected businesses and facilities. Atmos will also commit to fully compensate for damages that result from this event. In addition, the City will help connect those businesses with resources to ensure they are able to reopen quickly and successfully once the evacuation is lifted.

Atmos has also provided additional security during the evacuation via private contractors and off-duty police officers. The City of Georgetown is providing resources to aid the company in its efforts to protect and inform the community.

RELATED: Weeks after Georgetown gas leak, evacuations jump to 67 businesses and 73 homes

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