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News / Politics

Biden to visit storm-ravaged Texas Friday

By ALEXANDRA JAFFE, Associated Press
Published: February 23, 2021, 10:46am
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President Joe Biden speaks about the 500,000 Americans that died from COVID-19, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Washington.
President Joe Biden speaks about the 500,000 Americans that died from COVID-19, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Photo Gallery

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will visit Texas on Friday as the state begins its recovery from a devastating winter storm that caused serious damage to homes and businesses across the state and left many without power or clean water for days.

The White House announced Tuesday that Biden and his wife, Jill, will travel to Houston on Friday. While there, he’ll meet with local leaders to discuss the ongoing recovery from last week’s winter storm, and will visit a COVID-19 health center where vaccines are being distributed.

Millions of Texas residents remain under boil water notices after the freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall caused power outages and burst pipes across the state, prompting local officials to warn Texans about the safety of their tap water. Some Texans have been left cleaning up extensive damage done by heavy snowfall and burst pipes in their homes and businesses, while others have been saddled with thousands of dollars in electricity bills after power grid failures affected production and demand.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” the state of Texas should bear those “exorbitant costs,” rather than residents.

“For people getting these exorbitant electricity bills and having to pay to repair their homes, they should not have to bear the responsibility,” he said.

The White House announced on Saturday that the president had declared a major disaster in Texas, and he has asked federal agencies to identify additional resources to address the suffering.

Biden previously tweeted about Texas and the other affected states, received regular updates from his staff and declared states of emergency in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Biden spoke to the governors of the seven states most affected by the winter weather. He tweeted a photo of himself on the phone with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency also shipped dozens of generators and supplies, including fuel, water, blankets and ready-to-eat meals, to the affected areas.

Biden said last week that he hoped to travel to Texas but he didn’t want his presence and the accompanying presidential entourage to distract from the recovery.

Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.