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Huddled together under the covers, four children were sleeping peacefully next to a fire. While they slept, their father turned to TikTok for help. The Dallas, Texas, family had just used its last piece of firewood, the only thing warming them up during the state’s rare winter storm. “We need some help,” Chester Jones, posting from the account @checkjones on Tuesday, can be heard saying in the video.
Jones’ post was just one example of the millions of Texans stuck without power for days, as many turned to social media to show the damage from the unprecedented snowstorm and freezing weather.
President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Texas Sunday as record-low temperatures continued in the state. At least 10 people have died amid the catastrophe.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) began rolling out statewide blackouts on Monday to protect the state’s power grid, which left millions without electricity. Dan Woodfin, senior director of system operations at ERCOT, told the Associated Press that the storm was “well beyond the design parameters for a typical, or even an extreme, Texas winter that you would normally plan for.”
In single-digit temperatures without electricity, people across Texas were left freezing cold. TikTok posts from Texans over the last few days show families huddling for warmth, building fires, and asking for help. Videos on TikTok with the #TexasStorm hashtag have totaled 13.1 million views.
Jones’ post, which showed his daughters sleeping, had more than 6 million views as of Wednesday. The American Red Cross commented, encouraging everyone to stay safe and find a Red Cross shelter or warming center if they need help. In other videos, Jones, whom Insider could not immediately reach for comment, updated followers on the situation as he added cardboard to his fireplace.
Another video with 7.4 million views showed water frozen all over a kitchen, with icicles dripping down cabinets.
In a video with 3.4 million views, posted Tuesday, a woman can be heard sobbing as she shows how her home has been flooded and iced over.
But because TikTok is known for its thriving sense of humor, viral videos from the Texas weather emergency also include those joking about the situation.
One video posted Monday that has 4.5 million views shows a Texas woman doing a fake news broadcast in the snow.
In the skit, she approaches another woman who is pretending to be on a run. “Never miss a Monday,” the runner says, before slipping and falling in the snow.
Another video posted Friday, which has more than 5 million views as of Wednesday afternoon, shows a woman wearing oven mitts while she tries to scrape ice off her car. “I have a whole other respect for Michigan,” she wrote in the caption.
Cristina Marsola, a 29-year-old from California who posted that video while visiting family in East Texas, told Insider that seeing other TikToks during the disaster help her and others “understand what really is going on” in Texas.
“People are losing their homes and their lives,” Marsola said. “It breaks my heart.”