Texan pleads for help online as his family is left with one piece of firewood to keep warm during storm

·4 min read

Massive power outages due to a winter storm has left Texans pleading for help on social media, including one father who revealed his family only had a single piece of firewood left.

Chester Jones shared on TikTok, under the account name @checkjones, on Tuesday a video of his four children asleep underneath blankets in one room of their home in Dallas, Texas.

In a caption, Mr Jones revealed that the power was off in their home and it was freezing temperatures outside. The family was left with just one piece of firewood to keep them warm through the night.

"Please help me," he said to other TikTok users.

The video went viral online, giving users a glimpse into what Texans have suffered this week after a massive winter storm brought snow and freezing temperatures to the state.

Texans were stuck without power for days after the state experienced a surge in usage in order to keep everyone's homes warm. This overloaded the system and forced blackouts throughout the state as the weather plummeted to freezing temperatures. Some residents have been without power for four straight days.

As of Thursday, there were still about 600,000 Texans without power, according to poweroutage.us. But the outages impacted more than 4 million residents at one time during the peak of the winter storm.

Texas operates on an independent electricity grid instead of being federally regulated, which means it's unable to pull electricity from other grids when there are surge demands. So the current surge instead led to millions without power and heat for extended periods of time.

The state was the only one in the continental United States to operate on an independent grid.

Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, and other GOP state leaders have faced backlash for the mass blackouts that occurred in Texas. People have accused the leaders of not properly preparing the state prior to the storm.

Mr Abbott has cast blame on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) on Tuesday for the power outages that have occurred across the state. He called ERCOT "anything but reliable the last 48 hours" and issued an executive order to review the "preparations and decisions" made by the council ahead of the winter storm.

Wind and solar power were then blamed by the governor on Tuesday night when he appeared on Fox News. Mr Abbott claimed the situation in Texas proved how the Green New Deal, a proposal pushed by Democrats to address climate change and clean energy, would be deadly to the entire country.

These claims have been pushed by other Texas Republicans in an effort to spin the current situation. Democrats, in comparison, have claimed the situation proved why a Green New Deal was necessary.

An ERCOT official said frozen wind turbines, which have occurred across the state, were the least of Texas' problems in returning power to residents, according to Bloomberg. Wind power made up less than 13 per cent of current outages, the official said.

Instead the main cause of the outages was the freezing of instruments and pipes to transport natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy. The state was also experiencing a shortage in natural gas.

When speaking to the Associated Press, Dan Woodfin, the senior director of system operations at ERCOT, said the current winter storm went "well beyond the design parameters for a typical, or even an extreme, Texas winter that you would normally plan for."

Weather was set to improve in Texas and other nearby states within the next day. But the winter storm has left at least 24 dead across states, including a grandmother and three children in Sugar Land, Texas, who died in a house fire in an attempt to keep warm.

Mr Chester's post about his family's situation has garnered more than 6.6 million views, as of Thursday morning. The Red Cross commented on the TikTok, saying "Please stay safe! If you need somewhere to go for warmth, visit www.redcross.org/shelter to find an open shelter or warming centre near you."

He later updated his followers that several people who saw his TikTok reached out and donated more firewood for his family to use in order to stay warm.

Texas was still working to restore power to hundreds of thousands of residents across the state, as offiicals warn residents could experience a food and water shortage in the coming days.

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