US Biden heads to Texas to survey damage from paralyzing winter storm
The Daily 202: Biden builds back boring in town hall. That’s not a bad thing
Let’s come out and say it: An absence of incendiary tweets doesn’t make a young presidency boring when the administration is facing a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, the resulting economic devastation, the climate crisis and a host of other problems. A running seven-day average of deaths from the virus stood at 2,455. Whatever the assessment of whether Biden is meeting those challenges, these are not boring times. On the substance, the Delaware Democrat probably disappointed progressives on several fronts.
By Jarrett Renshaw
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden will visit Texas on Friday as the state works to recover from a devastating winter storm that caused serious damage to homes and businesses, left millions without power or clean water for days, and killed at least two dozen.
Biden and his wife, first lady Jill Biden, will travel to Houston, where he will meet with officials, including Republican Governor Greg Abbott, to discuss the recovery from last week’s storm. He will also visit a COVID-19 health center where vaccines are being distributed.
Winter storms devastate US after a year of Covid lockdown -- and it's nowhere near over
There is no fine time for a devastating barrage of winter storms, but it's hard to imagine the weather icing over much of the United States coming at a less opportune moment. © THOMAS SHEA/AFP/Getty Images Customers wait in line to enter Frontier Fiesta on February 17, 2021 in Houston, Texas. - A winter storm has caused rolling black-outs through out the Houston and the surrounding areas for the past 48 hours.
The president will bring empathy and pledges of financial help from Washington, but no lectures about the dangers of underregulation or calls for the federal government to monitor the state's power grid.
"There’s plenty of time to have a policy discussion about better weatherization, better preparations, and I’m sure that’s one that will be had. But right now, we’re focused on getting relief to the people in the state," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Thursday.
The disaster has been a test of Biden's pledge to work for all Americans to help unify the country. Abbott initially did not recognize the Democrat's November election victory over Republican President Donald Trump. Texas state officials lost a court bid in December to overturn the results, which Trump has falsely claimed were tainted by widespread fraud.
Texas Boy Dies Of Suspected Hypothermia After Home Suffers Power Outage
The family moved to the U.S. from Tela, Honduras, two years ago and were not used to such freezing temperatures. Although the toddler was fine, the following day, by 2pm, the sixth grader had not stirred. Cristian Pavon Pineda made no complaint of feeling unwell the previous evening, Maria Elisa Pineda said. After the 11-year-old was found dead on Monday afternoon, his mother and step-father, Manuel Moreno, 38, immediately called the police. Conroe Police Department investigators came to the home and stayed until 8pm that day. An autopsy was performed Thursday, said Conroe PD spokesman Sgt.
For 10 days this month, Texas was hit by an unusually prolonged period of very low temperatures. Electricity consumption surged, while many generating units failed to start up owing to frozen instrumentation, iced turbine blades and insufficient fuel supplies.
The state's Republican leaders have come under fire for not heeding warnings that the state's power grid needed significant upgrades to defend against deep freezes.
While much of the rest of the United States features electricity systems that are interconnected, allowing power to cross state lines, Texas has long stood out for having its own grid.
Last week, Abbott asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Biden to issue a major disaster declaration for all of the state's 254 counties. Biden initially signed off on a declaration for 77 counties, adding 31 more on Monday and signaling he was open to increasing the number.
The declaration authorizes FEMA to provide grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners.
Biden delayed a visit to the state to avoid hampering efforts to save people from the storm's damage.
"Now we're at the recovery stage where we need to make sure people have access to clean water, access to places to live and to stay. And so the president wants to survey the damage so he can tap into all the resources of the federal government," Psaki said on "The View" TV program on Thursday.
(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Heather Timmons and Peter Cooney)
As Texans went without heat, light or water, some companies scored a big payday .
The nation's most deregulated energy economy was supposed to be a win for consumers, and for energy companies nimble enough to do business in a bustling, cacophonous market. But a cold snap shattered it last week.The nation’s most deregulated energy economy was supposed to be a win for consumers and for energy companies nimble enough to do business in a bustling, cacophonous market. But the cold snap — rare but by no means unprecedented — shattered it last week, plunging consumers into misery and leaving a badly prepared and dislocated energy sector in pieces.