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Biden to sign Texas disaster declaration, says he plans to visit state next week

In comments made Friday, President Joe Biden said he would sign the disaster declaration as soon as it is in front of him.
Credit: WFAA

DALLAS — Updated at 3:39 p.m. with details from Texas senators to the president.

President Joe Biden said he plans to sign a disaster declaration for the state of Texas as soon as Friday afternoon and wants to visit Texas. 

Biden made the comments after delivering remarks at the France Munich Security Conference.

On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott said he would be filing a major disaster declaration with the Biden administration to help with individual assistance that is not covered by private insurance. The goal: to help people repair the damage to their homes. Abbott urged Texans to keep their receipts.

Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz sent a letter to Biden urging him to grant Abbott's request, according to a release from Cornyn's office. 

“Despite the Governor’s swift action to mobilize state, local, and non-profit resources, Federal action is necessary to protect the lives of Texans now and in the weeks to come," the letter read in part. 

Biden on Friday said he would sign the declaration as soon as it is in front of him. 

Experts predict that the damage from the winter storms and power outages in Texas could be more than Hurricane Harvey, which cost an estimated $20 billion. 

Biden said he was thinking of visiting the Lone Star State next week, but wanted to make sure his visit wasn't a burden to a state struggling with power outages, water shortages, and more. 

"The question is I had planned on visiting Texas 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," Biden said. 

In addition to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Biden said he had directed a number of other federal agencies to find resources for Texas, including Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Attorney General and the Department of Defense. 

FEMA resources staged in Fort Worth, Texas

FEMA supplies for the state were being staged in Fort Worth, officials said Thursday night.

Included in the supplies were 60 generators, associated equipment and a generator mechanic, federal officials said. They also sent 20 trailers of water and approximately 70,000 blankets. 

Federal officials also said they were coordinating with the Defense Logistics Agency to maintain diesel supplies for back-up generators.

Officials are prioritizing hospitals, nursing homes, water treatment plants and communication facilities for the distribution of federal supplies.

As of Thursday evening, some items have already been distributed, including nine generators and around 81,000 liters of water. 

“TDEM and FEMA are working around the clock in partnership with our local officials to fulfill additional requests for assistance,” federal officials told WFAA.

The White House said they had been in touch with a number of mayors and county officials from across the state of Texas. The administration said they were working to understand the dire situations facing Texans and ensuring leaders were being connected to FEMA for immediate needs and federal resources. 

The White House said it spoke to the following leaders:   

  • Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston
  • Mayor Ron Nirenburg, San Antonio
  • Mayor Jeff Williams, Arlington
  • Mayor Jim Darling, McAllen
  • Mayor Steve Adler, Austin
  • Mayor Richard Molina, Edinburg
  • Mayor Chris Boswell, Harlingen
  • Mayor David Suarez, Weslaco
  • Mayor Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez, Pharr
  • Mayor Mario Garza, San Juan
  • Mayor Oscar Montoya, Mercedes
  • Mayor Diana Martinez, Alamo
  • Mayor Rick Morales, Donna
  • Mayor Salvador Vela, Alton
  • Mayor Gilbert Gonzales, Raymondville
  • Mayor Craig Brown, Galveston
  • Mayor Mendez, Brownsville
  • Judge Lina Hidalgo, Harris County
  • Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas County
  • Judge Eddie Treviño, Cameron County
  • Judge Richard Cortez, Hidalgo County
  • Judge Andy Brown, Travis County