Wednesday, January 19, 2022

President Biden to declare Texas weather a major disaster

US President Joe Biden is set to declare a major disaster for Texas, clearing the way for more federal funds to be spent on relief efforts.

Power is returning in the state and temperatures are set to rise but some 13 million people are still facing difficulties accessing clean water.

Mr Biden has said he will visit Texas as long as his presence is not a burden on relief efforts. Nearly 60 people havedied due to the cold.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed Mr Biden has asked his team to expedite Texas’ request for a disaster declaration. He has also been in touch with the mayors of some of Texas’ biggest cities, such as Houston, Austin and Dallas, to ensure they have access to government resources, an administration official said.

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Several other southern states hit by snow and ice storms this week have also reported water service outages.

Winter weather has also cut off water in the city of Jackson, Mississippi – home to around 150,000 people – as well as the largest county in Tennessee that includes the city of Memphis, with over 651,000 residents.

The Southwestern state’s energy grid has been overwhelmed by a surge in demand for heat as temperatures plummeted to 30-year lows, hitting 0F (-18C) earlier this week.

Around 13 million people – close to half of the state’s population – have faced some disruption of water services as hundreds of water systems have been damaged by the freeze. Austin, the state’s capital, lost 325m gallons (1.2bn litres) of water when pipes burst.

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