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A Texas man who had $17,000 charged to his credit card by a wholesale electricity company during last week's storms may get his money back -- thanks to GoFundMe.

Over 4 million people were without power and clean water in Texas for 5 days last week.

To compound their troubles, wholesale electricity provider Griddy began emptying customers' bank accounts before they had even received invoices.

63-year-old Army veteran Scott Willoughby, who lives on social security payments, lost his life savings when Griddy charged $16,752 to his credit card for 7 days' worth of service.

"My savings is gone," the Dallas resident told the New York Times. "There's nothing I can do about it, but it's broken me."

A GoFundMe account created by Willoughby raised over $12,000 as of Tuesday.

Willoughby wrote in the summary:

"[My payment] went on my credit card and once paid, will almost wipe out my savings and my brother's came straight out of his bank account causing an overdraft. Any and all help is appreciated. Blessings on all!"

Willoughby never lost power during the winter storm. He and other customers were warned by Griddy to change providers before the storm hit. But most electricity providers in the state weren't taking on new customers.

Other customers discovered that Griddy had raided their bank accounts and left them nearly penniless.

Ty Williams had nearly $17,000 deducted from his bank account by Griddy. His family home never lost power during the storm.

Williams told Fox 4 News he did everything he could to conserve energy for those 7 days. "I unplugged refrigerators, I turned off everything. I turned off all the lights. We literally tried to stay in one room and use our gas heaters."

Still, their bill skyrocketed to nearly $17,000 for 7 days' usage. Griddy told Williams the billing was automated and based on estimated usage. The company said it would check the system for errors and make adjustments.

Chambers County resident Lisa Khoury filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Griddy for "unlawful price gouging" during the winter storm.

Khoury, whose average bill is between $200 and $250, said her bill for Feb. 13 through Feb. 19 came to $9,340.

She said Griddy began making withdrawals from her bank account daily.

Khoury said she was only without power for one day and was careful to limit usage out of fear of a high bill.

Some Griddy customers were charged as high as $400 per kilowatt-hour. For those customers, Griddy offered to set up payment arrangements.
 

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NY congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez angered her constituents by raising $2 million for Texans, while some New Yorkers are without electricity.

Constituents in Ocasio-Cortez's home district, NY-14, say they have no way of contacting the congresswoman because she doesn't have her own office or staff in her district -- even though she received a taxpayer-funded budget to pay for both.

Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, raised $2 million for Texans impacted by winter storm Uri. She rushed to Houston, Texas on Friday for photo ops.

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Twitter users were angry that she stood in front of Texas representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (left) and Sylvia Garcia (right) at the microphones.

Constituents in her home district in New York say they haven't seen her in years. They are told to contact her through social media.

Twitter user @WonderKing82 dragged AOC for failing to properly represent the voters who put her in office.

"I call for investigation in Alexanderia Ocasio-Cortez allocation of funds because she took government tax payers funds to open up two congressional offices and she never did. Three years later still no office for her constituents in the Bronx and Queens."

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Twitter user Karen Jean wrote: "Pure pandering, You have no empathy for anyone but yourself. Stay in New York, don't those people need your "help" too?"

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Twitter user @churchlady320 wrote:

"She claims to have an office. She hasn't staffed it. Had a social worker, someone not knowing how to fight GOP cuts, but I gather she's gone. AOC like every other Rep HAS A BUDGET for her district office. How has that money been spent? We deserve to know."

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And @DanaHoule tweeted:

"She's conducting herself and running her operation not as if she's NY-14's Representative, but like she's the United States' At Large Representative. Maybe her constituents will be fine w that. But personally I think she owes them more."

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HEM / BACKGRID

Ted Cruz is the most hated man in America. The senator was heavily criticized for jetting off to sunny Cancun, Mexico, while his constituents froze to death.

Cruz, wearing a Texas flag print mask, hurried back to Texas on Thursday morning, as angry Texans called on him to resign his Senate seat.

But the story gets worse. Photos circulating on social media shows Cruz abandoned his poodle, Snowflake, at home alone without heat or lights.

Michael Hardy, a reporter for New York magazine's Intelligencer, stopped by Cruz's home in the exclusive River Oaks neighborhood. There, he photographed the lonely pooch peeking out a glass pane in the front door.

"Is this Senator Cruz's house?" the reporter asked a man who stepped out of a vehicle parked in the driveway.

The man, who identified himself as a security guard, told Hardy he was there to check on Snowflake.

"Just drove by Ted Cruz’s house in Houston. His lights are off but a neighbor told me the block got its power back last night. Also, Ted appears to have left behind the family poodle," he wrote.

HEM / BACKGRID

Cruz claimed his daughters asked him to take them on vacation - and the tickets were already booked before the power outages.

Power has been restored to about 80% of residences in Texas, but many people are still without electricity and clean water.

To add insult to injury, some power company customers were hit with massive electric bills averaging $2.32 per kilowatt hour.

Twitter user @KatandTonyT shared a copy of her most recent power bill for a whopping $3,801.16.

She wrote:

"When your electric company tells you to switch but there has been a hold on switching for over a week now. Using as little as possible 1300 sq ft house and this is my bill. How is this fair. I only paid $1200 for the whole 2020 year."

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Instagram/@Beyonce

Beyonce's charity is donating $1,000 each to Texas residents affected by the deadly winter storms.

The mom-of-three is pictured above posing shirtless under an unzipped jacket in an ad campaign for her Ivy Park x Adidas clothing line.

Snow storms - including Winter Storm Uri - brought record low temperatures to the state, leaving several dead and millions of Americans without power, heat, and clean water.

Widespread blackouts were reported across the state since last week.

Houston native Beyonce and her BeyGOOD foundation joined forces with Adidas and the city's food poverty non-profit Bread of Life to offer financial assistance to those who are in crisis.

Applications for up to $1,000 can be made via Bread of Life's Disaster Relief Assistance Application Form.

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Instagram/@Beyonce

The "Halo" hitmaker - who shares 9-year-old daughter Blue Ivy and three-year-old twins, Sir and Rumi Carter, with husband Jay-Z - wrote on her Instagram Story: "BeyGOOD and Adidas are working with Bread of Life to bring urgent relief to those suffering as a result of the winter storms. If you are in Texas or any state affected by these storms, you can apply for assistance at breadoflifeinc.org/disasterrelief."

In December, BeyGOOD donated $500,000 to people at risk of eviction owing to the current COVID-19 crisis.

BeyGOOD has also supported black-owned small businesses amid the Covid-19 outbreak, as well as donating $6 million to mental health wellness.

Charitable donations are eligible for huge tax write-offs come tax time.
 

Copyright Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to the photograph(s) or video(s) used in this post. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" of photographs for purposes such as parody, criticism, commentary, news reporting, education, and research.

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Senator Ted Cruz is returning to Texas after a massive outcry on social media in reaction to photos of Cruz and his family jetting to Cancun this week.

4.4 million Texans are still without power or water after 5 days, thanks to frozen turbines and a bungled response by the state's power company.

"Keep your family safe, and just stay home and hug your kids," Cruz reportedly told Texans a day before he and his family jetted to sunny Cancun for a relaxing vacation.

"If you can stay home, don't go out on the roads, don't risk the ice," he told radio host Joe Paglialuro on Tuesday.

He also tweeted: "Stay safe! Please don't risk the ice."

A day later, a sharp-eyed taxpayer spotted the congressman waiting in a standby line at Houston airport to upgrade to business class where there is more leg room to stretch out on the plane.

Cruz requested a police escort through the airport on Wednesday around 4 p.m. He and his family were pictured at the United Airlines Lounge, and on the plane before departure.

Less than 24 hours later, Cruz hightailed it back to Texas after a furious public backlash.

He tweeted on Wednesday: "I got no defense. A blizzard strikes Texas & our state shuts down. Not good. Stay safe!"

He previously attacked the Biden administration's plan to take California’s energy policy and rolling power outages nationwide:

"California is now unable to perform even basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity. Biden/Harris/AOC want to make CA's failed energy policy the standard nationwide. Hope you don't like air conditioning!"
 

Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

A Texas mayor who told city residents impacted by winter power outages that "no one owes you or your family anything" has resigned as mayor.

Colorado City Mayor Tim Boyd announced his resignation in a post on his Facebook page Tuesday. City manager David Hoover confirmed the resignation to NBC News.

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In a since deleted Facebook post Tuesday morning, Boyd told residents to "sink or swim" and stop "looking for a damn handout."

"No one owes you or your family anything," he wrote, "nor is it the local governments responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim, it's your choice!"

He continued: "The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING! I'm sick and tired of people looking for a damn hand out!"

In his typo-filled post, Boyd reportedly told people to "step up" and come up with their own "game plan" to stay warm after the power was cut to over 4 million homes in Texas on Tuesday.

"If you don’t have electricity you step up and come up with a game plan to keep your family warm and safe. If you have no water you deal with out and think outside of the box to survive and supply water to your family," he continued. "If you were sitting at home in the cold because you have no power and are sitting there waiting for someone to come rescue you because your lazy is direct result of your raising! Only the strong will survive and the week will perish [sic]."

Boyd concluded the message by saying "Get off your ass and take care of your own family!", KTXS reports.

Hours later, Boyd posted a follow-up message announcing his resignation:

"I would never want to hurt the elderly or anyone that is in true need of help to be left to fend for themselves," he reportedly wrote. "I was only making the statement that those folks that are too lazy to get up and fend for themselves but are capable should not be dealt a handout."

Boyd added that his wife was laid off from her school job for defending him.

"The anger and harassment you have caused my wife and family is so undeserved.... my wife was laid off of her job based off the association people gave to her and the business she worked for. She’s a very good person and was only defending me! But her to have to get fired from her job over things I said out of context is so horrible [sic]."

Millions of Texans are still without water or electric as winter storms brought snow, ice and record low temperatures to the state.

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Millions are without power or water in Texas after a historic storm caused massive power outages amid subfreezing temperatures.

At least 5 people are reported dead in their homes as 150 million people in 25 states are under winter advisories.

Rolling power outages began Monday to prevent the total collapse of the power grid in Texas. 1.2 million homes were without electricity as of Monday evening.

Residents took to social media for information amid rolling outages that lasted longer than 45 minutes.

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4.3 million residents are without power in Texas alone after a blast of arctic air arriving from Canada froze wind turbines that generates electricity in West Texas. The frozen turbines knocked the power grid offline, causing massive power outages in homes and businesses.

Wind farms across the state generate up to a combined 25,100 megawatts of energy. The power grid in Texas was still struggling to go back online as demand for electricity to heat homes surged early Tuesday.

Some power — enough to serve about 500,000 homes — was being restored to the state's power grid Monday evening, said a spokesman for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

In Houston, a woman and a girl died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning from a car running in an attached garage, police said.

The rolling blackouts in Texas affected neighboring states such as Arkansas and Missouri.

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The deadly winter storm spawned a tornado that killed three in North Carolina.

There are reports of people trapped in their homes in Brunswick County, as emergency services mobilized to rescue people whose homes were ripped from their foundations by a possible tornado.

"It's something like I have never seen before. A lot of destruction," said Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram during a press conference early Tuesday. "It's going to be a long recovery process."
 

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CBS News/KTVT

A North Texas food bank distributed 600,000 pounds of food to 25,000 hungry people this past weekend.

CBS News reports thousands of cars lined up on a Dallas street, "stretching as far as the eye can see."

Saturday's food distribution was the "largest-ever" food giveaway according to the NTFB. Aerial footage by CBS News show several lanes of cars stretched miles down the street.

CBS News interviewed residents who lost their jobs and unemployment assistance.

Samantha Woods, a Dallas resident told CBS, "I see blessings coming to us 'cause we all struggling. And I appreciate North Texas helping us out."

Another Dallas resident, Cynthia Cutler, said, "I haven't been working since December, can't find a job. They cut my unemployment. It's a real big deal."

NTSB President Trisha Cunningham told CNN she is proud of her team "for providing some hope and care during these extraordinary times."

She added: "It was quite a humbling scene to see so many in need."

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The father of a 28-year-old Texas woman who was fatally shot by a rookie cop is comparing his daughter's wrongful death to Botham Jean, the 26-year-old account who was killed in his apartment by a cop.

Atatiana Jefferson's father, Marquis Jefferson, said his daughter didn't have time to react to a cop's orders before she was shot through her bedroom window early Saturday morning.

Marquis Jefferson was inconsolable after receiving the call that his daughter was killed.

As Atatiana's name trended on Twitter.com all weekend, Marquis told KTXA, "My daughter was 28 years old, had her whole life in front of her.

"You have to know this is somebody's daughter. Somebody loved her. There was a better way. It didn't have to be like that."

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Jefferson's family said she was playing video games with her young nephew before she was shot. Jefferson and her nephew thought they heard a prowler outside before she walked to her bedroom window to look out.

The family has retained attorney Lee Merritt who also represents Botham Jean's family.

According to published reports, two cops responded to a non-emergency 911 call placed by next door neighbor James Smith, 62, who asked police to conduct a welfare check after noticing Jefferson's front door was open at 2:30 a.m.

The two officers observed the open front door, but rather than knock or identify themselves as police officers, they conducted a search of the property at the back of the house.

Body cam video released by the Fort Worth Police Department shows the cop shining a flashlight around the darkened exterior of the home.

At one point the cop was startled by Jefferson who looked out her bedroom window. The cop, without identifying himself, shouted "Put your hands up! Show me your hands!" before firing through the closed window, striking Jefferson and killing her.

Legal experts say the fact that the cop shouted "show me your hands" before firing a split second later is sufficient proof that he did not see Jefferson's hands before he fired. Nor did he give Jefferson sufficient time to react to his orders.

 

The edited police video shows still photos taken of a handgun presumably located inside Jefferson's bedroom after she was shot. According to Texas law, Jefferson was within her rights to keep a gun to protect her home.

The college graduate's case is being compared to that of Botham Jean, who was killed in his own apartment by former Dallas cop Amber Guyger on Sept. 6, 2018.

Guyger, 31, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison earlier this month.

"Unlike this Botham Jean, I don't want no hug," Marquis Jefferson said, referring to the infamous hug Guyger received from trial judge Tammy Kemp after she was found guilty. "That's my one and only daughter. I will never forget that," Jefferson said.

Smith says he regrets calling the police to conduct a welfare check on his neighbor.

He said Jefferson was a good neighbor who lived with her 8-year-old nephew and an older woman, who was in the hospital.

"I'm shaken. I'm mad. I'm upset. And I feel it's partly my fault," Smith said. "If I had never dialed the police department, she'd still be alive."

The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the shooting.