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 Joe 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 entire state was under a winter storm warning for the first time ever.
Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Texas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Saturday, after the state’s vulnerable electric grid failed, leaving millions without power, heat or water. Power has since been restored in much of the state, but many residents remain without clean water.
Biden said Friday that he was considering a visit if it would not disrupt 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.
The disaster declaration unlocked federal funding for individuals in 77 counties in Texas: grants for temporary housing and home repairs and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses after extensive damage across the state.
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.