Galveston County families struggle to stay warm in widespread power outages

People in Galveston County were among the hardest hit by power outages, with more than 90% of homes and businesses reported to be out of power since one or two o'clock in the morning.

"Tonight's when it's going to get bad. It was bad. I slept with quite a few blankets over me," said Amy Votaw of Texas City.  

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Since the power went out at 2:00 a.m and temperatures dropped into the 20's, the Votaw family says a gas stove in the kitchen has been their source of heat. 

"This is our 'fireplace.' It's been going for a while," said Votaw. 

"I have rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, so I'm in a lot of pain and the cold weather doesn't help," said Votaw, who uses a wheelchair to get around.

She says she and seven other family members are in the house right now.

"My 72-year-old mother has Alzheimer's, lives with us.  My husband, myself, and our two kids, who are 12 and 13, and my oldest son and his fiance and our grandson came to visit and are stuck with us right now," she said.  

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The Energy Reliability Council of Texas extended rolling blackouts from overnight when they didn't cut enough demand on the state's power grid. But the Votaw's aren't buying it. 

"We have 100 plus degree summers where we use AC's and AC's draw more power than people's heaters do. So I'm raising the old flag up in the air, know what I'm saying?  Because I think they were ill-prepared, they don't want us to use that much energy and they are cutting it off on purpose," said Clyde Votaw.

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said that ERCOT has not provided enough information on what's happening and why. 

"One of the challenges is our providers aren't sure if an outage is the result of an ERCOT temporary power outage or an emergency power outage. So they're having some significant challenges identifying where they should be putting their resources," said Judge Henry.  

The Votaws say they don't have another place to go. 

"This is it. My dad passed away a while ago, so we don't have other family members that live nearby that we could go stay with right now," said Amy Votaw. 

We reached out to ERCOT for comment, but haven't heard back yet. 

The City of Galveston has opened a warming shelter at the Recreation Center on 28th Street for anyone who needs it.