Texans are freezing to death, so Ted Cruz ran off to Cancun

When disaster strikes, your congressional delegation is supposed to get to work, not fly to Mexico.

A series of winter storms collapsed Texas’ power grid, cutting off electricity — and heating — to millions of Texans as temperatures plummeted below freezing, with more storms were on the way.

So what did US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) do? He fled the state and went to Cancun, where the weather is hot and the margaritas icy.

Now, before anyone says “what could Ted Cruz do about a natural disaster?", let me share with you what US Senators and their staff are supposed to do during such crises.

It was August 18, 1992. I was a legislative assistant to US Senator Ted Stevens, and in Alaska for work. I was heading with my friend Rob Maguire to his sister’s house just outside of Anchorage on an otherwise fine day, weather-wise, when we noticed some dark clouds on the horizon. It looked like a bad storm brewing. But soon, the ever-encroaching dark clouds covered one-third of the sky, and it looked like the blackest storm you’d ever seen. I remember the words “Biblical” came out of my mouth, it was so creepily black, and, had a very fine, crisply-defined border between the black clouds and the bright sky in front of it.

I think we turned on the radio to check the weather, and heard that a nearby volcano, Mount Spurr, had erupted, and its ashes were heading towards Anchorage.

I don’t recall how long it took, but eventually the clouds engulfed the entire sky, and it was blacker than you’ve ever seen. The thing is, there are no stars, no moon, no light in the sky at all. It was unlike any night you’d ever seen, and creepy as hell. And, of course, this is Alaska in summer, so it was still daytime — but it was now pitch black out.

Rob and I planned to spend the night at his sister’s, as it was now snowing volcanic ash outside, and we were under a lockdown order from city. The ash was just too dangerous, for your lungs, but also for any mechanical equipment, from cars to planes to cameras (thus the reason I don’t have any photos of the moment, I didn’t want to ruin my nice camera). I think it was the next morning when I got a phone call from our local office, telling me the Senator wanted me to come in for work and help with volcano response. I asked them what I could possibly do to help with a volcano, but they said he wants all staff in the Anchorage office, pronto.

So, I called a cab — I have no idea why cabs were still operating — borrowed a surgical mask from Rob’s sister (thought those days were behind me!), and took a very slow and careful ride from her house to the office, in the blackest of mornings — it should have been sunny, it looked like midnight — driving through inches of grey ash billowing up in the air as the cars drove by. It wasn’t safe to be out, it wasn’t safe to be driving, it wasn’t safe to be breathing — I remember you could feel, and even taste, the ash in the air when you breathed in — but I worked for a US Senator, and when disaster hits the state, it’s all hands on deck.

So I went to the office in the local federal building, where the FAA was located as well — I worked on transportation issues, among others — and a group of us got together to make sure that all the agencies were working as one to address the crisis.

What we didn’t do was fly to Mexico.