Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to the media at the Houston Food Bank
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to the media at the Houston Food Bank
Thomas Shea/AFP via Getty Images

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has won praise after raising more than $5m for those impacted by the deadly winter storms in Texas.

The New York representative launched her fundraising campaign on Thursday, while millions in the Lone Star State toiled without energy in freezing conditions after the record-breaking Storm Uri knocked out swathes of the power grid.

While power has largely been restored, nearly a third of the state’s residents’ clean water supply has been disrupted, according to CNN, with the storms – which claimed at least 58 lives across an area stretching to Ohio – having hit public water systems and ruptured pipes, causing damage to many homes in the process.

In response, US president Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, sending federal aid in the form of blankets, clothing and food, as well as generators to keep hospitals and other vital buildings running.

After raising more than $2m in one day, AOC also made her way to Texas on Friday to visit the relief efforts with Texas representatives Sylvia Garcia and Al Green, stopping to volunteer at the Houston Food Bank.

“It’s one thing to read about what’s going on but it’s another thing entirely to see the damage for ourselves,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN. “The message in Washington is let’s not let people get caught up in a bunch of red tape. Let’s try to get this assistance out the door as much as people need and as quickly as we can.”

By Monday, her fundraiser had exceeded $5m.

Naturally, people couldn’t help but compare and contrast with the behaviour of the state’s Republican senator Ted Cruz, who incurred nationwide fury after he was spotted taking a flight to Cancun in the midst of the crisis – which he insisted was due to his desire to be a “good dad” by accompanying his daughters on holiday.

As ever, Ocasio-Cortez’s critics were out in force too, accusing her of using the crisis for self-promotion – a take parodied here:

However, others somewhat more rationally pointed out – as did Ocasio-Cortez herself – that effective policies should always be the government’s go-to method for helping people, rather than having to resort to charity.

While the crisis undoubtedly serves to reinforce the dangers of climate breakdown in making more extreme weather events more likely, anyone hoping it may have spurred a more rational debate about what these policies should look like will have been initially disappointed.

More: Did Ted Cruz really board a flight to Cancun during the Texas power outages?

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