Biden tours Texas storm relief efforts

Houston (AFP) –


President Joe Biden on Friday toured relief efforts in Houston after an unusually severe winter storm pummeled Texas, driving the state's power grid to the brink of collapse.

"Hell of an operation here. It's probably the best one in the country," Biden told staff at the Emergency Operations Center in Houston. "You're saving people's lives. As my mother would say, you're doing God's work."

Biden, accompanied by his wife Jill, was visiting for the first time since a prolonged freeze plunged Texas into chaos, with the power grid unable to keep up and Texans, far more used to heat than cold, struggling to survive.

Millions in the solidly Republican state lost power and reliable water. Mark Sloan, emergency management coordinator for Harris County, said "57,000 residents still have to boil their water" for safety.

Biden and the first lady also stopped at the giant Houston Food Bank, which serves more than a million people across south-east Texas.

Jill Biden helped pack boxes with instant oats and canned peaches, saying: "We're here to help, so put us to work!"

The president was later to visit a federal Covid-19 vaccination center to promote the government's bid to speed up a national vaccine rollout against the pandemic. The center is able to administer 6,000 shots a day.