President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Texas as the state reels from a severe winter storm that initially left millions of people without power amid freezing cold temperatures.
Biden’s action makes federal funding available to communities across 77 counties. Additional disaster designations may be made after further damage assessments.
As of Saturday morning, Texas reported nearly 80,000 power outages across the state, according to tracking website poweroutage.us.
Boil water notices remain in effect across 189 counties after more than 1,300 public water systems have reported disruptions in service due to the weather, affecting more than 15.1 million people, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said in a statement Saturday early morning.
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The federal aid includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster, the White House said Saturday in a statement.
Biden’s major disaster declaration also unlocks federal aid for eligible local government offices and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures and hazard mitigation measures statewide.
Acting FEMA Administrator Robert Fenton named Jerry Thomas as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas.