Like texas limp back to a normal life after a devastating winter storm, a mother is still trying to come to terms with a heartbreaking and unfathomable personal tragedy.
Jackie Pham Nguyen lost her mother, Loan Le, and three children, Olivia, 11, Edison, 8, and Colette, 5, to a fire as she tried to stay warm at her home in the Houston suburb of Sugarland for the power outages that crippled the state.
Their deaths are believed to be related to the storm, according to the Fort Bend County chief medical examiner.
Nguyen says she doesn’t remember much of what happened in the early in the morning of February 16.
When the power was cut to her house, the family lit the fireplace and played board games and card games, she said. They went to bed around 9:30 p.m. as the children were exhausted, Nguyen told CNN’s Don Lemon.
She put the kids to bed and the next thing she found out she was in the hospital and a firefighter and policeman told her that no one else had succeeded. She says she doesn’t fully remember what happened, but remembers being on the first floor where her bedroom is and being unable to go up to the children’s rooms.
Nguyen told Lemon that her mother Le was the reason she could be a working mother. From afternoon school pickups to shopping, Nguyen says her mother was the reason she could be a working single mom and be involved in her children’s lives and activities as well.
“I really wanted my daughters to see that women can do anything and I wanted my son to be the kind of man who takes action. Like I said, my mom really bridged that gap so that I could do it and my kids could see it, ”Nguyen said.
As for her children, she told Lemon about their big and beautiful personalities.
“She really loved and cared for people in such a deep way,” Nguyen said of Olivia. “In November, she spent weeks making a Spotify playlist for her brother Edison for his birthday as a gift for him… and she noticed that I was listening to it so much that she made me one for my birthday. , what we all have just celebrated together just a few weeks ago, ”she said.
Nguyen said Edison was born shortly after the death of her own father and that he filled a “gaping hole” in her heart. “He looked a lot like my dad in a lot of ways so I think it gave my mom a great sense of comfort, the feeling that my dad was always with us,” she said.
She said her younger Collette, or Coco as she was affectionately known, “wanted to do it all”. “Words cannot capture how big his personality was,” Nguyen added.
Nguyen said she has a support system that is helping her get through this difficult time. She is currently with her brother and her two sisters have come to help her. She says that some of her very good friends who were like aunts and uncles to her children are also part of her support system.
She also set up a GoFundMe donation page to honor the lives of children with a foundation. “Our hearts are broken right now,” she wrote on the page. “However, your acts of kindness gave us some comfort in getting through this. We are eternally grateful to you all.
Fort Bend County chief medical examiner Dr. Stephen Pustilnik confirmed on Friday that the grandmother and her three grandchildren had died while trying to warm up.
“The family had a gas fireplace and they used it for warmth,” Pustilnik said. “They still had gas logs but no electricity, and somehow the environmental conditions, I suspect a downdraft occurred through the chimney, causing the fire has spread beyond the limits of the fire. “
Millions of people shivered from the cold with power outages and an interruption in water supplies after winter storms hit the state with extreme cold, snow and ice earlier this month. President Joe Biden visited the state on Friday to assess the damage.