WASHINGTON (AP) — Add Mother Nature to the pile of crises on President Joe Biden’s plate.
A month into the job and targeted on the coronavirus, Biden is seeing his catastrophe administration abilities examined after winter storms plunged Texas, Oklahoma and neighboring states into an uncommon deep freeze that left hundreds of thousands shivering in houses that misplaced warmth and energy, and in lots of houses, water.
At least 69 deaths throughout the U.S. have been blamed on the blast of unseasonable climate.
The White House introduced on Saturday that the president had declared a major disaster in Texas, and he has requested federal businesses to determine extra sources to deal with the struggling.
Biden got here into workplace Jan. 20 promising to sort out a collection of brewing crises, beginning with the coronavirus pandemic and its ripple results on the economic system. He tacked on systemic racism and local weather change as high priorities. And now he’s contending with storms that haven’t solely imperiled Americans but additionally delayed the cargo and administration of hundreds of thousands of doses of coronavirus vaccines.
Biden stated Friday that he hopes to journey to Texas subsequent week however doesn’t need his presence and the accompanying presidential entourage to distract from the restoration.
“They’re working like the devil to take care of their folks,” Biden stated of Texas officers. He stated he’d decide early subsequent week about journey.
Biden, who supplied himself in the course of the marketing campaign because the skilled and empathetic candidate the nation wanted at this second in time, is engaged on a number of fronts to deal with the state of affairs — and to keep away from repeating the errors of predecessors who received tripped up by insufficient or insensitive responses in occasions of catastrophe.
Part of the job of being president is responding to the destruction left behind by earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and different pure disasters, or occasions like lethal mass shootings, and even acts of terrorism.
Some have dealt with such conditions higher than others.
George W. Bush earned reward for his management after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist assaults however stumbled throughout his administration’s halting response to the humanitarian catastrophe that unfolded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast 4 years later.
Barack Obama stated he ought to have anticipated the blowback he received for going to the golf course proper after he condemned the beheading of a kidnapped American journalist by Islamist militants in 2014. Obama was vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard on the time.
Donald Trump was criticized for tossing rolls of paper towels right into a crowd of individuals in Puerto Rico who had endured Hurricane Maria’s pummeling of the island in 2017. He defended tossing the towels, saying the folks had been “having fun.”
Bill Clinton, who famously claimed in the course of the 1992 presidential marketing campaign that “I feel your pain,” was a pure at connecting with catastrophe victims.
Just this week, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas confirmed how shortly one unhealthy transfer throughout a disaster can develop into a public relations catastrophe for a politician.
Cruz got here below assault for touring to Mexico whereas his constituents suffered with out energy, warmth and working water. His rationalization — that his daughters pushed for the getaway as a result of they had been out of college — was significantly panned. Cruz later stated the journey was a mistake.
Biden has tweeted about Texas and the opposite affected states, whereas the White House has issued quite a few statements geared toward demonstrating that the federal authorities is in charge of the state of affairs. The president is getting common updates from his workers and already declared states of emergency in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana — including the catastrophe designation introduced Saturday for Texas.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has shipped dozens of turbines and provides, together with gas, water, blankets and ready-to-eat meals, to the affected areas.
Biden has spoken to the governors of the seven states most affected by the winter climate. He tweeted a photo of himself on the phone with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas.
Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, a staunch supporter of Trump’s, was fast to reward Biden for swift motion on a catastrophe declaration.
After talking with Biden by phone earlier this week, Stitt particularly thanked the president for “taking the time to reach out this afternoon and offer the federal government’s help for Oklahomans. We had a very productive call and I look forward to working together to find solutions as we recover from this historic storm.”
Barbara Perry, director of presidential research on the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, stated Biden is “well-suited” to cope with the catastrophe due to his many years of service within the U.S. Senate and as a former vp and due to “his genuine concern for people.”
“He’s got to show empathy right off the bat,” Perry stated in an interview. “It’s important for a president to go to a place that’s been battered, but be careful about the footprint. He doesn’t want to make things worse.”
Biden, ought to he determine to go to Texas subsequent week, might additionally use the journey to press his level that local weather change is actual and should not go unaddressed, and that the state might do issues like winterize its energy crops to be higher ready for future storms, Perry stated.
But he ought to take care to not achieve this in a scolding sort of means.
“We know he cares about climate change, and this is a way to convince people,” Perry stated.
Associated Press author Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.
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