Biden declares Texas a major disaster after winter storms devastated the state

  • President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in the state of Texas, The White House announced.
  • The declaration will make available federal funding to residents of dozens of Texas counties.
  • Winter storms that began February 11 have devastated Texas, causing power and water outages.
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The White House on Saturday announced President Joe Biden had declared a major disaster in the state of Texas following a series of unusual winter storms this month that left millions of Texans without electricity or clean water. 

The declaration allows individuals in dozens of counties impacted by the weather to apply for federal funding, which the White House noted Saturday includes grants for temporary housing, funds for home repairs, and “low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses” amid other programs to assist Texans impacted by the storms.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Texas residents can begin to apply for assistance online or by calling a hotline for assistance. 

Winter storms that brought frigid temperatures, snow, and ice to cities across the state of Texas have left dozens of people dead, and experts fear the actual toll is much higher, the Texas Tribune reported.

While power has since been restored to most people in Texas, millions spent hours and days without it as the storm caused outages and forced power companies to institute rolling blackouts to prevent wider uncontrolled outages. Millions in the state remained without clean drinking water and were asked to boil their water, according to the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, after power outages impacted water treatment facilities.

The declaration will also offer federal funds to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations “on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures and hazard mitigation measures statewide,” the White House said in its Sunday statement.

According to the Associated Press, Biden said Friday he hoped to visit Texas next week but was mulling over whether his visit would be a distraction from the state’s attempts at recovery. He said he’d make a decision on travel next week. 

“They’re working like the devil to take care of their folks,” Biden said.

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