HOUSTON – DeMarco Wheaton Boles was 31. His family buried him on Saturday.
Harvey Robinson lived in Galveston. He was a former barber who loved his grandchildren.
And Florence Jones. Everyone in her south Houston neighborhood knew Florence.
“She was a good neighbor,” said Pamela Barnes Hopkins, who lived next door. “It was just devastating that she had passed.”
Boles, Robinson and Jones weren’t connected in life but, according to their attorneys, have something in common when it comes to their deaths.
“I don’t know if anything compares to loss of life in this magnitude,” said Houston attorney Chris Leavitt of the Buzbee Law Firm. “What happened was not a mistake. It was a series of really poor decisions that put money over people’s safety.”
Leavitt said as of Monday, his firm has filed more than 30 wrongful death lawsuits against The Electric Reliability Council of Texas and power companies across Texas that center on decisions made leading up to last month’s winter storm.
“The local utility provider decided who to shut off and for how long and on top of that they told everyone it would be a rolling or temporary blackout and as we all know how it was anything but,” Leavitt told KPRC 2.
Jones was an 82-year-old grandmother and former school teacher. She lost power during the storm and then her pipes burst. She went to stay with her daughter and then her daughter lost power. Jones developed chest pains and died.
“They were warned many times. They had a lot of notice this could potentially happen. It had happened in the past yet they did nothing,” Leavitt said.
A spokesperson for the ERCOT said they don’t comment on pending litigation.
Centerpoint Energy sent the following statement:
As the regulated utility responsible for delivering electricity to our more than 2.6 million customers across greater Houston and surrounding communities, we understand the severe impact that the historic weather and generation shortfall emergency had on all Houstonians and Texans.
While as a matter of company policy CenterPoint Energy does not comment on pending litigation, we mourn for all the lives that were lost as a result of the severe winter weather event.
CenterPoint Energy is fully committed to working with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the Texas Legislature and Governor, Texas power generators, and all stakeholders to take measures to address the issues related to this historic winter storm.