President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden travel to Houston Friday to see area after devastating winter storm

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Feb. 26 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Texas on Friday to meet with residents and volunteers recovering from the rare winter storm that devastated the state last week.

The storm brought cold temperatures, ice and some snow to Texas and hindered the state's power grid, leaving residents and businesses without power for extended periods of time. The disruption left millions without heat and drinkable water when treatment plants lost electricity.

Dozens of deaths have been attributed to the winter storm.

The Bidens are scheduled to travel to Houston late Friday morning and arrive about noon CST.

Jill Biden will visit the Houston Food Bank to help package food and water and the president will tour the Harris County Emergency Operations Center. Later, they will tour the food bank.

The president is scheduled to also visit the federal COVID-19 vaccination site at NRG Stadium, which is home to the NFL's Houston Texans. He will give a public address at 6 p.m. CST.

"Gov. Abbott, I don't want to ruin your reputation, but I look forward to coming down [Friday], to Houston, to be with you," Biden told Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Thursday during the National Governors Association winter meeting.

"And I want you and the residents to know that we're here to provide the federal assistance you need to support your state, your local, and tribal response efforts."

Abbott said the state's Division of Emergency Management has re-requested that an additional 54 Texas counties be added to the federal major disaster declaration the White House partially approved last week.

"Our partnership with FEMA and the Biden administration has opened up crucial resources for several of our communities -- but there are still many counties who need this federal assistance as they recover from this winter storm," Abbott said in a statement. "I ask FEMA to quickly grant this request so that we can ensure access to the relief that Texans need in the wake of this disaster."

DEM chief Nim Kidd has said state agencies have spent $41 million on the storm so far and local governments almost $50 million. Ultimately, officials said it could be more costly than the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

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