Residents line up in their vehicles to enter a warming center and shelter after record winter temperatures, as local media reports most residents are without power, in Galveston, Texas, U.S., on 17 February 2021.
Adrees Latif | Reuters
President Biden said he would travel to Houston, Texas on Friday. He will be joined by First Lady Jill Biden.
The presidential trip comes after a deadly winter storm that hit much of the country and hit Texas with snow and below freezing temperatures. The state issued its first ever winter storm warning.
Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Texas on Saturday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said, after the state’s vulnerable power grid failed, leaving millions of people without electricity, heat or water. Electricity has since been restored to much of the state, but many remain without clean water.
The action unlocked federal funding for individuals in Texas, grants for temporary housing and home repairs, and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses after major damage statewide.
Biden had said last week that he was considering a visit if he could do so without disrupting recovery efforts. “I don’t want to be a burden, if I can do it without being a burden on people, I plan to go,” he said.
Biden’s statement makes aid available to individuals in 77 counties in Texas. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott had called for a declaration of major disaster for all 254 counties. The White House said it was working closely with Abbott and that more counties could be included after further damage assessment.
The federal government had already approved emergency declarations for Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana and sent supplies including generators, blankets, water and meals to Texas last week.
TBEN’s Emma Newburger contributed to this article.