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Biden approves disaster declaration in Texas, where water problems still impact millions after winter storm

Grace Hauck
 
| USA TODAY

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With hopes of a thaw on the horizon, millions of Americans across the south-central U.S. were grappling with the aftermath of the deadly winter blast Saturday.

Power was slowly returning to residents impacted by the storm, but many were still without clean drinking water. Experts are warning that people of color and low-income communities who were disproportionately affected by blackouts and burst pipes could now face the hardest journey to recovery.

More than 275,000 people across nine states were without power Saturday morning, including more than 79,000 in Texas – down from the 4 million earlier in the week, according to PowerOutage.us. Over 15.1 million people in Texas had disruptions in their water service Saturday, leading local agencies to issue boil water advisories, Gary Rasp, a spokesman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality told USA TODAY.

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President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration in Texas Saturday and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts. Biden said Friday he plans to visit Texas next week but will only go when he determines his presence won’t be a “burden.”

“The answer is yes,” Biden said of a visit to Texas, adding his plan originally was to go in the middle of next week. “But I don’t want to be a burden. When the president lands in a city in America it has a long tail.”

Last week, Biden approved states of emergency in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

The week saw some of the worst winter weather conditions in decades, if not on record, the National Weather Service said Friday, and the conditions were blamed for the deaths of more than 57 people. More than 3,000 daily record cold temperatures were reported from February 12-17, and 79 of those records were all-time cold records, the NWS said.

The National Weather Service predicted Friday that much of the U.S. was expected to see subfreezing temperatures for several days to come. But “warmth is on the way,” the service said. “It may even feel tropical by early next week,” the NWS said on Twitter.

“A major thaw is forecast for the recently winter-bombarded south-central United States,” according to AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. “Even though temperature swings won’t be as dramatic in the Midwest and East, AccuWeather meteorologists say the extreme winter weather of late should ease up in intensity into the end of February.”




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