I immediately headed inside to call Black Hills Energy to let them know of my problem. When I think back now, I was really lucky. The dishwasher and the clothes dryer were both running and of course the Air Conditioner had been running off and on...but since it had cooled down so much that evening it wasn't currently kicking on and off (probably a good thing).
I called the emergency number and the gal on that end wanted my address of course. She then asked if anyone was there with me. I said "No, just me and my two cats". She said "I'd like you to walk outside and keep walking until you don't smell gas". I'm thinking 'she just wants to know how far the gas has permeating into the air'. But her next statement brought the whole situation into a different light. "What is the name of someone who could tell us how to get to your house in case we can't reach you?" OK, my interpretation of that is "If your house blows up and you're in pieces...we still need to get there...so who can tell us how to get there?" I said to the gal "You're sort of freaking me out now". She said she just wanted me to be safe and to stay as far away from the house as possible. So I'm pacing out by the gravel road and she says she has put in a service call the they will get there as soon as they can...but may be up to an hour!
I sneak back up to the car parked by the house and gently open the door to get my lawn chair out and a box of kleenex (you know me, I'm crying by now cuz I'm freaked out). I put the lawn chair out by the road and just sit staring at the house waiting for it to blow up and knowing that I will be traumatized for life if that happens to my two buddies inside. There was no way I could get the cats out...so I just prayed for the best and if the house did blow..that they went quick and did not suffer.
I gave them Lori's name and number since I didn't want to freak out my mother and I knew Lori would keep a level head (even though if she got the call she'd know I was looking down from heaven at that point in time). So I had to call Lori and tell her. She assured me that all would be OK..even though she did suggest I get in the car and back it out to the edge of the road. I decided that might not be the best idea since there was gas smell every where...so I just sat in my lawn chair and called lots of friends to help while away the time. But believe it or not I got cold...so I had to sneak back up to the car and get my blanket.
After an hour I called Black HIlls Energy back and she said that the guy was having to come from NEWTON and would probably be at least another 1/2 hour. WTF!!
I got cold enough that I decided to go sit in the garage in Russ' truck. I was cozy in there but afraid I would fall asleep and miss the guy pulling into the drive.
He got there around 10. I walked him around the east side of the house and as soon as we turned the corner I could smell gas. It took him another step or two. He was hoping that there would be a shut off valve at the house so he didn't have to trek out into the field to find the meter and shut off out there. He got out his wrench and started what I thought sounded like pounding...so I headed east towards the bean field. I was afraid he was going to spark something and we'd all be blown to kingdom come!
He got it shut off at the house. He then needed to go in and check the house for the level of fumes. He asked me to stay out side and his next statement was "If I come out running...you take off running as well." Well, I can laugh at that now, but at the time I'm freaking out and walking rapidly towards the road. It took him a bit to come out and I was afraid that he may have been overcome with fumes..but he finally came out and said the house was fine. A little more detected in the basement but not enough for concern. He said I could go back in the house and he was going to check some more things outside.
He then came back in and said that he was going to have to go out to the meter after all because he felt there was a leak underground....UGH. So trying to explain where the meter is in the middle of a bean field is not fun. But I did the best I could. He went out and tried...but came back in and said that he was seeing a reflection but not seeing the yellow pole that they put up for an identifier. I finally said that Russ said that when there is corn in the field, he goes over about 6 rows and heads straight north and usually runs into it. The guy said that was helpful. So after 15-20 minutes he came back in and said that he found the meter and was able to get the gas shut off out there. That's pretty much the end of their story. They shut it off and then it's up to you to figure out how to get it fixed!! So he left around 11. It was after midnight before I could get to sleep and then woke up at five the next morning.
So now it's Friday and really the only impact I have is that I don't have hot water. I took a shower as soon as the guy left so I could get the last of the hot water out before it cooled off. I then made some calls Friday morning. 2 of them were too busy to help and the other 2 never called me back. So now I'm going into the weekend with no hot water. But a good weekend for this to happen. I was headed to my folks in Perry on Friday after work and spending the night. We had a reunion in Perry on Saturday and then I had to head back to Ames to my boss' son's wedding at 4. So I was able to clean up at my folks on Saturday. Russ didn't get home that weekend so he missed ALL the excitement.
I did go over to Lori's on Sunday evening so I could have a nice shower and wash my hair.
I emailed a client/friend of mine that I know through the office and he gave me the name of a plumbing company in Ames that he thought might help. They did come out to the farm Monday morning and determined that there was NO underground leakage but they could not find a regulator to replace the one that was outdated. They had some calls made but didn't get an instant response...so still no hot water..but at least I have someone working on it. SO Monday night I did have to take a cold shower and let me tell you, even though I came home feeling like a cold shower would feel good. IT DIDN'T. They were able to get the regulator late Tuesday and came Wednesday morning and got me all fixed up. The guy from the plumbing company even came in and lit my hot water heater for me...so when I got home I HAD HOT WATER.....YIPPEE. Now waiting for the bill. But what do you do? Hopefully, this will be the last time we have to deal with this kind of issue...so it will be worth it.
So that's my story. The guy that came on Thursday said that Northern Natural Gas owns the main line and BHE takes care of it for them and he didn't understand why they didn't have someone more local (like Ames or Des Moines) to come out and take care of situations like this so the customer didn't have to wait so long for a response. I agreed and will be writing a letter to someone. Not that it will change things but still want them to know how freaked out I was sitting out there waiting for someone to come not knowing if my house was going to blow up in front of me!
Sorry this was so long...but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Hope everyone else's summer is not as eventful as mine turned out to be.