Biden authorizes supplies for Texas amid power outages, approves new disaster declarations
The Biden administration has sent 60 generators, thousands of blankets and other supplies to Texas to help address mass power outages amid a rare bout of extreme winter weather.
Homeland security adviser and deputy national security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall told reporters Thursday afternoon that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has supplied 60 generators to support critical sites like hospitals and water facilities, 729,000 liters of water, more than 10,000 wool blankets, 50,000 cotton blankets and 225,000 meals.
Officials are also preparing for the possibility of further requests by Texas and getting ready to supply diesel fuel to power facilities, she said.
President Biden, who spoke with governors of states affected by the winter storm earlier this week, also approved disaster declarations for Oklahoma and Louisiana on Thursday.
“Jill and I are keeping Texas, Oklahoma, and other impacted states in our prayers. I’ve declared states of emergency, authorized FEMA to provide generators and supplies, and am ready to fulfill additional requests,” Biden tweeted. “Please heed the instructions of local officials and stay safe.”
Sherwood-Randall, who appeared at a White House press briefing conducted by phone, said that a million or more Americans continue to experience power outages but she said the numbers have declined “significantly” from their peak, with some 600,000 remaining without power in Texas.
“Due to the nature of this storm citizens will continue to experience rolling power outages in some communities,” Sherwood-Randall said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that national security officials are regularly briefing Biden, who has no public events on Thursday after a trip to Michigan was canceled amid inclement weather in the Washington, D.C., region.
“The president is kept abreast of the developments in Texas and the surrounding states and receives updates everyday but more than once a day,” Psaki said. “It is certainly a focus”
Psaki said Biden has directed his team to “make rapid decisions and be responsive to the needs of the states as they come up.”
Millions went without power amid severe weather that began at the end of last week. While the outages have improved, they have caused water and food shortages. Biden declared a state of emergency in Texas on Sunday. At least 23 people have died from the storm’s effects.
Sherwood-Randall told reporters that the administration would undertake an effort to “strengthen and harden” critical infrastructure to ensure that the federal government and states can better prepare for incidents of severe weather.