Residents line up in their vehicles to enter a warming center and shelter after record-breaking winter temperatures, as local media reports most residents are without electricity, in Galveston, Texas, U.S., February 17, 2021.
Adrees Latif | Reuters
President Biden said he will travel to Houston, Texas on Friday. He will be joined by first lady Jill Biden.
The presidential trip comes after a deadly winter storm that hit a large swath of the country and battered Texas with snow and subfreezing temperatures. The state issued its first ever winter storm warning.
Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Texas on Saturday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced, after the state’s vulnerable electric grid had failed, leaving millions without power, heat or water. Power has since been restored in much of the state, but many remain without clean water.
The action unlocked federal funding for individuals in Texas, grants for temporary housing and home repairs and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses after extensive damage across the state.
Biden had said last week that he was considering a visit if he could do so without disrupting recovery efforts. “I don’t want to be a burden, if I can do it without being a burden for folks, I plan on going,” he said.
Biden’s declaration makes aid available to individuals in 77 counties in Texas. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott had requested a major disaster declaration for all 254 counties. The White House said it’s working closely with Abbott, and more counties could be included after further assessment of the damage.
The federal government had already approved emergency declarations for Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana and had sent supplies including generators, blankets, water and meals to Texas last week.
CNBC’s Emma Newburger contributed to this article.