President Joe Biden on Saturday approved a statement regarding a major disaster in Texas that was destroyed by the combination of a massive winter storm and an unprepared state power grid that caused widespread power outages to millions across the state.
"As I said when I ran, I will be president for all of America – for everyone," Biden told reporters on Friday. "There is no red or blue."
Biden spoke to Texas governor Greg Abbott Thursday night, but his administration has been in contact with representatives and governors of surrounding states in Texas since last week, which were also hit by the winter storm. Biden administration officials said they were quick to approve Abbott and other governors' requests for federal emergency declarations in their states, allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to get federal aid for affected residents.
Biden also said he plans to visit Texas next week.
"I don't want to be a burden," Biden said, noting that a president traveling to a state means a lot of additional security planning and work for state and local officials. "When the president lands in a city in America, he has a long tail."
It briefly explains what the federal government can do to help Texas
A federal emergency statement is helpful for states, but the total amount of federal aid it brings is capped at $ 5 million. The president, who signs an important emergency statement, expands the type of assistance the federal government can provide to states suffering the effects of a natural disaster. It authorizes assistance to affected individuals as well as state and local governments in emergency work and repairing damaged facilities. It will also unlock aids to reduce the risk and provide additional funding for states, municipalities and nonprofits working to save the lives and property of the affected residents.
The question also arises as to whether Congress will pass additional money for disaster relief. Even before the disaster in Texas, the House Democrats had put $ 50 billion for FEMA in their latest Covid-19 relief bill, House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday. Pelosi said she expected the House to vote on this bill by the end of next week.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, a White House official noted that FEMA teams were already embedded in state emergency officers in Texas and other states due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The people involved in solving these issues now are very familiar because they have been working together on the Covid response for quite a while," Homeland Security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall told reporters Thursday, adding added that the existing coordination did this was helpful during this natural disaster.
Sherwood-Randall said FEMA had provided 60 power generators and additional fuel support to facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes and water treatment plants on Thursday. The federal agency also provides 60,000 wool and cotton blankets, 225,000 meals, and other supplies after they are requested by Abbott, she said.
The immediate Texas crisis is over, but another looms
Although Texas has restarted its power plants and restored electricity to most of its residents, the state still has a long way to go to fully recover.
Millions of Texans are dealing with damaged homes and property, damaged by burst pipes and water pipes. Approximately 7 million Texas residents – roughly a quarter of the state's total population – are still advised to boil their water to kill bacteria before drinking it. And the loss of electricity and heat during a massive winter storm was fatal. The Associated Press estimates that around 70 deaths were confirmed nationwide as of Saturday. At least a dozen deaths in homes in Texas that have lost heat are expected to be counted as rescue workers reach more areas.
According to the Texas Tribune, many homes severely damaged many homes after the death and power outage. In a press conference, Abbott warned that burst pipes and the resulting water damage could be a major problem for homeowners and renters. A major federal emergency statement could provide federal funds to individuals to help them with the costs of repairing and rebuilding their homes.
"Line up the plumbers and work with your insurance company in advance," Abbott said at a recent news conference.
Many residents stay in hotels, and many more are likely to need federal aid and emergency shelter before they can return home and assess the damage. And the cold winter temperatures that many Texans are not used to are not over yet. Temperatures in parts of Texas are expected to drop below 32 degrees on Friday night, according to the National Weather Service.
Texans have many days and months of rebuilding ahead of them. Biden explaining an important emergency statement is a great first step in getting help.