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Texas winter storm: Joe and Jill Biden to visit as water crisis hits

Joe and Jill Biden will travel to Texas on Friday in aftermath of storm, power cuts and clean water crisis hitting state

  • Joe and Jill Biden will travel to Houston, Texas on Friday 
  • ‘The president will meet with local leaders to discuss the winter storm relief efforts,’ White House press Jen Psaki said
  • President will also visit a COVID vaccine distribution center 
  • More than 7.9 million people in 202 Texas counties still had issues with their water supply 
  • At least two dozen people were killed and more than 4 million people lost power
  • The power and water shortage in Texas was caused when Winter Storm Uri blew through the state, causing a surge in usage that the state was not prepared for

Joe and Jill Biden will travel to Houston, Texas on Friday, the White House announced, to visit the state as it recovers from a winter storm. 

‘The president will meet with local leaders to discuss the winter storm relief efforts, the progress toward recovery and the incredible resilience shown by the people of Houston and Texas,’ White House press Jen Psaki said at her briefing on Tuesday.

She also said Biden would visit a COVID health center during his trip to see vaccines being distributed. 

Joe and Jill Biden will travel to Houston, Texas on Friday

An aerial drone view of cars lining up for a water distribution event at the Fountain Life Center in Houston, Texas

An aerial drone view of cars lining up for a water distribution event at the Fountain Life Center in Houston, Texas

People wait in line to enter H-E-B supermarket in Austin, Texas

People wait in line to enter H-E-B supermarket in Austin, Texas

More than 7.9 million people in 202 Texas counties still had issues with their water supply as of Monday evening, a spokesman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) told Reuters.

A deadly winter storm caused widespread blackouts last week across the state, which is unaccustomed to extreme cold. At least two dozen people were killed and more than 4 million people lost power. 

The power and water shortage in Texas was caused when Winter Storm Uri blew through the state, driving up the sudden demand for energy.

Texas – which operates on his own electrical grid unlike the rest of the US – wasn’t prepared for it.

Suddenly, everyone in the state needed more energy than ever and there wasn’t enough of it in reserve. The cold weather also closed down power plants which hadn’t been renovated to withstand the frigid temperatures, despite a similar storm in 2011 causing the same problems.

Now, there are serious questions over why those power plants weren’t ready for it.

ERCOT – the agency in charge of the distribution of all the energy in the state – initiated rolling blackouts to try to save what was left of the system.

They switched off power to huge swathes of the state to try to conserve the system, but it meant millions had no heat, water or electricity during historically cold temperatures.

Some, including 11-year-old Cristian Pavon Pineda, froze to death.

Others died trying to keep warm, including a grandmother and three kids, who were killed by a fire they’d started. 

Republican Senator Ted Cruz came under fire for being caught flying Cancun as residents of his state suffered from the cold

Republican Senator Ted Cruz came under fire for being caught flying Cancun as residents of his state suffered from the cold 

Icicles hang off the State Highway 195 sign in Killeen, Texas

Icicles hang off the State Highway 195 sign in Killeen, Texas

Plumber Randy Calazans with One Call Plumbing repairs a burst pipe in a Houston home

Plumber Randy Calazans with One Call Plumbing repairs a burst pipe in a Houston home

Meanwhile, Republican Senator Ted Cruz came under fire for being caught flying Cancun as residents of his state suffered from the cold.  Social media users posted pics of him boarding the flight.

The trip and his attempts to defend it have been a PR disaster for the senator.

He was forced to fly back the next day amid outcry over the trip, and defended it by saying he was just being a ‘good dad’ and appeasing his ‘girls’, who’d asked if they could jet somewhere warm while Texas froze.

Cruz had said he was dropping his daughters off, and that he was returning to Texas to battle the energy crisis. But he carried a large carry-on which suggested he planned to stay for longer than just one night. 

He later admitted he intended to stay ‘throughout the weekend’.  

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