Biden to travel to Houston on Friday in the wake of extreme weather and power outages
(CNN) -- President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Houston on Friday as Texas works to recover from major winter storms and power outages.
The storm, his efforts to get the federal government on the ground in its wake and the Texas trip all come less than two months after Biden's swearing in. Friday's flight marks his first presidential visit to a state following a major natural disaster -- a crucial leadership test for any US president, let alone one also handling the response to a pandemic.
"The President will meet with local leaders to discuss the winter storm, relief efforts, progress toward recovery and the incredible resilience shown by the people of Houston and Texas," Psaki said at Tuesday's White House press briefing, outlining some of the details.
"While in Texas, the President will also visit a Covid health center where vaccines are being distributed," she added.
Psaki said additional details of the trip are still coming together and will be released once they are finalized.
Severe winter storms earlier this month left millions of Texans without electricity for days. At least 29 deaths have been reported as a result of the storms.
Currently, over 11,000 electric customers in Texas remain without power, according to poweroutage.us. The weather delayed the delivery of about 6 million coronavirus vaccine doses. As of Tuesday morning, some 7.9 million people also remain impacted by public water system disruptions in Texas, leading to boil water notices.
Biden has approved a major disaster declaration for the state, and as of Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved the President's Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance for 108 of Texas' 254 counties.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had initially requested that all 254 counties be approved for the relief, but thanked Biden for the partially granting the request.
The assistance from FEMA, led by acting administrator Bob Fenton, includes supplementing insurance to help individuals with uncovered costs or other costs to make homes habitable, grants for temporary housing and home repairs, loans for property losses and other programs to help people impacted by the storm.
Fenton, a longtime FEMA official, served as acting administrator of the agency twice during the Trump administration. Biden has nominated Deanne Criswell, the commissioner of New York City's Emergency Management Department, to serve as administrator.
Last Thursday, Biden's Homeland Security adviser, Liz Sherwood-Randall, said that FEMA had also provided Texas with "60 generators and fuel available 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."
Abbott said in a statement on Sunday that an effort by the Texas National Guard, US Department of Defense, and FEMA has resulted in more than 3 million bottles of water distributed.
This story has been updated with additional details.
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