U.S. President Joe Biden could visit Texas “as soon as this week” after the storm that has left at least 59 people dead in the country and hit hard the people of that state, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Sunday.
“We’re going to do that at the appropriate time and in coordination with the people on the ground. It could be as soon as this week,” Psaki said in an interview with ABC News’ “This Week” program.
The spokeswoman said that Biden, who on Saturday declared a “major disaster” in Texas to expedite the mobilization of federal resources to address the emergency, is “very anxious” to go to the state “and show his support”.
“But he’s also very conscious of the fact that it’s not a moderate intervention for a president to travel to a disaster area, he doesn’t want to take resources or attention away from it,” Psaki said.
Biden approved the declaration of “major disaster” in 77 Texas counties, where storms have left millions of customers in the dark and cold temperatures collapsed water systems, especially pipes in many homes.
The national spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Daniel Llargues, explained to Efe that the declaration of “major disaster” is of “great magnitude” and responded to a request from the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott.
The measure makes it possible to offer not only public assistance to counties to recover infrastructure and take on other tasks, but also offers support to people who suffered damages to their homes that are not covered by insurance companies and for risk mitigation.
Llargues explained that due to low temperatures the pipes in many homes “burst or froze and then caused damage to the roof, to the walls.”
“Residents of this state are not used to seeing this type of winter storms, this type of severe weather,” the official commented, noting that weather events such as hurricanes, tropical storms or wildfires are more common in Texas.
In addition, the Biden Administration declared a state of emergency in Louisiana and Oklahoma -a measure that also includes Texas-, and which, according to Llargues, is intended to cover the tasks and work of that state, such as the expenses derived from the mobilization of police, firefighters or rescuers.
“FEMA is going to help with those expenses incurred by the state up to 75%, the other 25% is the state’s,” he explained.