Atmos Energy Father & Son Duo Survive Tornado, Turn Off Meters for Safety | Atmos Energy
Atmos Energy Father & Son Duo Survive Tornado, Turn Off Meters for Safety

Atmos Energy Father & Son Duo Survive Tornado, Turn Off Meters for Safety

June 20, 2019

An EF3 tornado with winds exceeding 130 mph destroyed 55 homes, four businesses and two churches in this town of 1,900 residents 35 miles north of Bryan in Central Texas. The twister struck about 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 13.

Town Operator Dale Callen, who lives in Hearne, 10 miles south of Franklin, was tracking the tornado on TV and via phone alerts from the Robertson County Sheriff’s Dept. In addition to monitoring possible natural gas system damage (he was on call), Dale had an even greater reason for tracking the twister: his son Dustin, a survey specialist, lives in Franklin.

“I was relaying the alerts to Dustin, who couldn’t watch TV because the electricity had gone out,” Dale said. “Dad would call and tell me how close the tornado was getting,” Dustin said.

“I knew exactly when it was going to hit. Me, my wife and two kids were in the bathroom with a mattress over us. Like everybody says, the twister sounded like a locomotive. The house shook pretty good but only a section of the back fence fell.”

Dustin quickly drove his company truck to the affected area, which was a half-mile away.

“I jumped in my truck and got there in about 15 minutes,” Dale added. “I have been serving Franklin for 31 years. I know where every meter is and I know every customer. Dustin and I started going house to house.”

“If the meter was spinning or if the house was totally destroyed, we were shutting them off,” Dustin said. “If the house was still intact, we checked the meter. If there was no movement on the dial, we left it on.”

Father and son also did leak surveying and responded to leak calls, including one caused by a big tree that blew over and pulled a meter out of the ground.

"I got a crew over there pretty quick,” Dale said. 

Meanwhile, Operations Supervisor Sharon Elliott, who lives six miles north of town, organized a group of employees to cook for residents. Power was out in some areas for two days.

“After the electricity went out in town, a group of us talked about what we could do for the community,” Elliott said. “People couldn’t cook at home or go out to eat, so, under the direction of Frank Klinkovsky, we decided to provide meals. We set up in the Best Western parking lot and served 300 meals on Sunday and 300 meals on Monday. More than 20 employees came from all over Texas to help us cook and serve."