New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visited the Houston Food Bank on Saturday (February 20) after raising over $3 million dollars in aid for Texas, crippled by a winter storm that left millions without power or water.
“We need to rally around this state. We need to rally federal support for Texans and the state of Texas, and we need to make sure that we make short and long-term policy decisions so that this kind of devastation, preventable devastation, never happens again,” said the New York congresswoman who was joined by fellow Democrats Silvia Garcia and Sheila Jackson-Lee in the heavily Latino region.
Even as power is beginning to come on for residents in the U.S. state which produces the most oil and gas, millions suffered through power blackouts and disrupted water service this week and nearly two dozen deaths have been attributed to the storm and a cold snap.
President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration for Texas, clearing the way for more aid in a crippling winter storm as he weighed a trip to survey the federal response.
Congressional Democrats criticized Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott and his fellow Republicans who control the state legislature, saying the crisis happened because they failed to upgrade the state’s independent electricity grid.
“I just want to say that the response (from state legislators) could be better from our state leadership. It could have been better in preparation and it better step up, it would be better doing a full, independent investigation on why this incident happened, why they didn’t winterize, why they didn’t prepare, what are they going to do, and make sure that they do it in a transparent, fair and equitable fashion,” said Congresswoman Silvia Garcia. “There will need to be reforms at ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) and I urge the legislature to do that and they should include looking at whether or not to join the federal grid.”
All the state’s power plants had returned to service, although more than 195,000 homes remained without electricity on Friday morning, and residents of 160 of Texas’ 254 counties had water service disruptions, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
(Production: Arlene Eiras)