Rep. AOC raises over $5 million in aid to help with damages from Texas winter storm

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes (D-NY) has raised over $5 million in aid to help with the damage from the winter storm that led to the Texas power grid to shut down, leaving millions without food or water. 

She launched her fundraiser last Thursday, while other progressive lawmakers visited food banks and other food distribution centers, as well as water delivery sites to view the damages the winter storm had done. Within two hours of Ocasio-Cortez posting the donation link on her Twitter account, the effort had pulled in $325,000, and by Saturday afternoon, it had reached $4 million. In a press conference, she stated that “the whole country must rally around this state.” After raising the $5 million she tweeted that, “Charity can’t replace policy, but solidarity is how we’ll face climate change and build a better world”. When asked by CNN if she had ever undertaken fundraising efforts before she simply stated that this was her first effort outside of the COVID-19 pandemic to have a fundraiser like this one. 

Houston Public Media reported that the donations will go towards several organizations, including the Houston Food Bank, Family Eldercare, Feeding Texas and the Bridge Homeless Recovery Center. Despite the outpouring of support, Ocasio-Cortez has said charity was not a replacement for good governance, and stressed that local and congressional leaders needed to take steps to prevent such disasters from happening in the future. “We need to make sure that we make short and long-term policy decisions so that this devastation, preventable devastation, never happens again,” she said. “It’s one thing to read about what’s going on but it’s another thing entirely to see the damage for ourselves,” she said. “The message in Washington is: let’s not let people get caught up in a bunch of rep tape. Let’s try to get this assistance out the door, as much as people need and as quickly as we can.” 

Ted Cruz, one of the Lone Star State’s two Republican senators, meanwhile, faced a backlash for fleeing the winter storm with his children to the warm weather of Cancún, Mexico. As temperatures begin to rise over the weekend, Texas lawmakers continue to demand accountability. Gov. Greg Abbott has added new emergency items for the Texas Legislature, tasking them with investigating ERCOT’s response and suggesting reforms to the grid manager. He’s also asked for legislation to mandate weatherization of the grid. State House Speaker Dade Phelan has scheduled a committee hearing to probe ERCOT’s response to the outages.

Outages began late Sunday night into early Monday morning last week as temperatures dropped into the teens across Houston and got even colder further north in the state, creating unprecedented demand and straining the Texas power grid. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s grid manager, initially warned of rolling blackouts. But as power generators started to fail Monday morning, those outages were more sustained and widespread than expected, ERCOT has said. As a result, millions were left without power for hours or even days on end. Worsening the crisis was widespread water shortages after the water was turned off to prevent pipes from freezing. Houston and Harris County are under boil water advisories through the weekend, along with about half the state of Texas. Those issues were especially bad in underserved communities, which often have older, less-insulated homes.




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