Watch CBS News

Texas storm leaves damaged homes and high electric bills in its wake

A new crisis has emerged after a deadly winter storm devastated Texas. The storm killed 55 people across seven states, including 31 in the Lone Star State, where residents are now facing sky-high electric bills

Megan O'Neill, a new mom, is one of those experiencing sticker shock. She was using Griddy for her electricity, a variable rate company that charged her $4,500 for five days of power last week. 

"I'm crying in bed, going I don't know what I'm gonna do," she said. 

O'Neill said she knew rates could go up, but not to this extreme. 

"They fluctuate every day," she said. "But some days it's $0.35, some days it's $0.98. I didn't know it would be $1,400 for one day. I didn't even know that was possible." 

Anticipating a price spike, the company did encourage customers to switch providers, but for O'Neill and others, it was too late.

It's a different nightmare for Tabitha Charlton, whose pipes burst while she was home with her 7-year-old twins. 

"I thought, 'Oh God, not again. I can't do this again,'" Charlton said. 

Charlton's Houston-area home also flooded during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. She just settled the claim with her insurance company 12 days ago. 

"I can deal with the damage. That can be fixed," she said. "But another three-and-a-half-year battle with the insurance company, I don't have that in me." 

The wait for plumbers is stretching into April. To help with the workload, Texas is soliciting plumbers from other states, granting provisional licenses and waiving fees. 

Repairing the damage will come at an enormous cost, but the human toll is far worse. At least 55 deaths were reported across the states, including 11-year-old Christian Pavon, who died in his family's unheated mobile home in Conroe, Texas. His family is suing the state's electrical grid operator and their power company for more than $100 million.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.