Biden declares a major disaster as severe winter storms hit Texas

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President Joe Biden is about to declare a major disaster for Texas and is preparing to pump millions of dollars into the emergency fund after being hit by snow and ice storms.

As many as 13 million people have problems accessing drinking water in the southern state.

Across the United States, 60 people have died in the freeze conditions that have paralyzed some cities.

In addition to the water supply problems, 180,000 homes and businesses were left without electricity on Friday.

The state is not used to winter storms and subzero temperatures that have crippled some of its infrastructure.

White House spokeswoman Jane Psaki confirmed that President Biden is close to declaring the situation in Texas a “disaster,” which would allow federal funds to flow into the state as part of the relief effort. He said the president had spoken to mayors of major cities in Austin, Houston and Dallas to ask them what they needed to recover from the chaos caused by the storms.

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Houston, the largest city in Texas, is subject to so-called “boil water advice”. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says all water for consumption – even a filter – must be boiled because it may be contaminated.

Officials there say they are working to quickly distribute bottled water, along with generators, to those in need. Breweries and other local businesses also contributed to the effort to provide safe drinking water.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state was providing “all the resources needed to help and accelerate the response at the local level.”

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Several other southern states hit by snow and ice storms this week also reported interruption of water service.

Winter weather has also cut off water in Jackson, Mississippi – with a population of about 150,000 – as well as in Tennessee’s largest county, which includes Memphis, which has a population of 651,000.

Across the southern US, a region unaccustomed to these freezing temperatures, people whose tubes had frozen were taking boiling ice to make water.

The southwest state’s power grid has been mired in increased heat demand as temperatures plummeted to their lowest in 30 years, reaching 0 F (-18 C) earlier this week.

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