Biden is stepping up governor’s request as the state deals with widespread water access issues and more than 180,000 without electricity.
US President Joe Biden said on Friday he was prepared to declare a major disaster in Texas hit by storm as soon as the declaration lands on his desk, and that he will travel to the state as long as it is not a burden on the local authorities.
Millions of the state’s residents struggle with power outages after a great winter storm.
“Like I said when I ran, I’m going to be president of all Americans,” said Biden, who lost in Texas last year to former President Donald Trump. Plans are being made for his trip, “if I can do it without creating a burden on people,” he added.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott called on the federal government to declare a major disaster Thursday night, according to a press release.
Biden also asked his team to expedite the request for the disaster declaration, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
Biden will also have a call with the acting administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) later Friday, Psaki added.
The White House has also been in contact with mayors and county officials in Texas to ensure they are connected to FEMA and have access to federal government resources, an official said separately. administration.
Texas battled power outages since the storm hit earlier this week. Millions of people were without electricity and heat for most of the week. About two dozen people are believed to have died, but the number is expected to rise.
All of the state’s power plants are back on line, but 166,229 went without power on Friday at 2:50 p.m. CST (8:50 p.m. GMT), according to Poweroutage.us, which tracks utilities in the United States.
The Texas Electric Reliability Council (ERCOT), which oversees 90% of Texas electricity in its deregulated power market, said it was ending the emergency conditions today.
ERCOT will end the emergency conditions today: https://t.co/XyWWijxFXY
– ERCOT (@ERCOT_ISO) February 19, 2021
Water infrastructure across the state burst when water turned to ice during the storm. Austin Water director Greg Meszaros told a press conference Thursday that officials in the state capital responded to “thousands” of pipes bursting.
AFD: We have responded to thousands of broken water pipes and burst pipes. It is important that you know where your water stop is. If you are in an apartment / building, contact your management so that they can quickly go there to shut off the water.
– Austin Energy (@austinenergy) February 18, 2021
The cold has also caused water treatment plants to shut down, which means those with access to water should exercise caution.
More than 14 million people, or half the state’s population, are still on boil water advisories, which means it must be heated to kill harmful bacteria before it is used. consume it.
The historic storm tested the state’s infrastructure, which, like most infrastructure in the United States, needs to be renovated.
The governor makes winterizing state generators a top priority.
In the press release, Abbott said he and Texas lawmakers “have already started the process to ensure events like this never happen again in Texas.”