Winter storms test Biden’s ability to manage natural disasters

Just a month after Joe Biden’s inauguration as the new president, his disaster response skills were put to the test after winter storms set off unusual cold temperatures in Texas, Oklahoma and neighboring states and lost access to electricity, heating and even water, writes The Associated Press.

At least 59 people have died in recent days due to extreme weather in Texas and neighboring states.

Biden took office on January 20, promising to tackle a series of looming crises, starting with the coronavirus pandemic and its negative impact on the economy. He called the fight against systemic racism and climate change a priority for his administration. The president is now facing the challenge of the fallout from winter storms that have not only endangered American lives but also delayed the delivery of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines.

Biden said Friday that he hopes to visit Texas next week, but doesn’t want his presence to distract state residents from disaster relief.

“They are working hard to take care of their people,” Biden described the actions of the Texas authorities. He said he would make the decision to travel early next week.

Biden, who offered himself during the presidential campaign as the experienced and empathetic candidate the country needs at the moment, is working on several fronts to rectify the situation and avoid repeating the mistakes of his predecessors, who sometimes inadequately responded to large-scale natural disasters or mass killings and terrorist attacks. …

Some presidents have handled such events better than their other counterparts.

George W. Bush has earned praise for his response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but has been criticized for the way his administration responded to the humanitarian disaster that unfolded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005 …

Barack Obama said he should have expected the backlash the former president received for going to play golf, just after he condemned the 2014 beheading of a kidnapped American journalist by Islamist militants. At that moment, Obama was vacationing on the resort island of Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts.

Donald Trump has been criticized for starting to throw rolls of paper towels at crowds in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria that struck the island in 2017. He defended his actions, saying that people were just “having fun” at that moment.

Bill Clinton, who declared during the 1992 presidential campaign that “I feel your pain,” was natural when dealing with disaster victims.

This week, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas demonstrated how quickly one wrong move during a crisis can be a public relations disaster for a politician. Cruz was attacked for traveling to Mexico while his voters suffered without electricity, heat and running water. His explanation of what had happened – the senator said his daughters had insisted on the trip because their school had been canceled – drew particular criticism. Cruz later admitted that his trip was a mistake.

Biden tweeted about Texas and other affected states, while the White House issued numerous statements designed to demonstrate that the federal government is in control. The President regularly receives news from his staff and has declared a state of emergency in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. On Saturday, the president announced a major natural disaster in the state of Texas and asked federal agencies to provide additional resources to address the problem of the victims.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has also dispatched dozens of generators and supplies to affected areas, including fuel, water, blankets and prepared food.

Biden spoke to governors in seven states hardest hit by the winter weather. He tweeted a photo of him on the phone with Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas.

Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, a staunch Trump supporter, praised Biden for quick action to declare a natural disaster in his state.

After a phone call with Biden earlier this week, Stitt especially thanked the president for “taking the time to contact this afternoon and offer federal government assistance to the people of Oklahoma.”

“We had a very productive conversation, and I look forward to working together to find solutions as we recover from this record storm,” Stitt said.

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