A volunteer fills bags with meals for people displaced by the winter storm at a shelter in Wylie, Texas, on Thursday. Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 18 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered the federal government to provide generators and other assistance to Texas amid power outages brought on by extreme cold.
Homeland security adviser and deputy national security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall said during a press briefing that the Federal Emergency Management Agency sent 60 generators to support critical sites such as hospitals and water facilities.
FEMA also provided 729,000 liters of water, more than 10,000 wool blankets, 50,000 cotton blankets and 225,000 meals, as well as attempting to get more fuel oil and diesel in to fuel the facilities. The blackouts and freezing temperatures have also disrupted the food supply chain in Texas, creating a food shortage.
"Jill and I are keeping Texas, Oklahoma and other impacted states in our prayers. I've declared states of emergency, authorized FEMA to provide generators and other supplies and am ready to fulfill additional requests," Biden wrote on Twitter. "Please heed the instructions of local officials and stay safe."
Millions in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi were without electricity by early Thursday, and residents in 100 Texas counties were under boil water advisories after blackouts shut down treatment facilities.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden remained in close contact with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and leaders of other states affected by the winter storm and was receiving regular briefings from national security officials.
"The president has kept abreast of the developments in Texas and the surrounding states and receives updates every day but more than once a day," she said. "It is certainly a focus."
Psaki added that Biden has directed his team to "make rapid decisions and be responsive to the needs of the states as they come up."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement on Thursday describing Biden's emergency declaration as a "vital, life-saving step" as Congress works to pass his American Rescue Plan, which includes $50 billion in funding for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund.
"All Americans are watching the situation in Texas and throughout the heartlands with great sadness. We must come to the aid of those suffering without power and water and we grieve with the families who have lost loved ones to this disaster," she said.