White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a press briefing on Wednesday that the Biden administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be sending emergency power generators to Texas as the state suffers widespread, ongoing power outages amid freezing weather.
"FEMA has supplied generators to Texas and is preparing to move diesel on to the state to ensure the continued availability of backup power," Psaki said, adding that they are also prepared to move diesel to the state as well.
"FEMA is also supplying Texas with water and blankets at their request," Psaki added.
Nearly 3.4 million utility customers around the U.S. were still without power Wednesday in the aftermath of a winter storm that overwhelmed power grids unprepared for climate change, and another blast of snow and ice threatened to impede the efforts to restore service.
The latest storm front was expected to bring more hardship to parts of Texas, Arkansas and the Lower Mississippi Valley before moving to the Northeast on Thursday.
“There’s really no letup to some of the misery people are feeling across that area,” said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service, referring to Texas.
More than 100 million people live in areas covered by some type of winter weather warning, watch or advisory, the weather service said.
More than two dozen people have died in the extreme weather this week, some while struggling to find warmth inside their homes. In the Houston area, one family succumbed to carbon monoxide from car exhaust in their garage. Another perished as they used a fireplace to keep warm.
Utilities from Minnesota to Texas and Mississippi have implemented rolling blackouts to ease the burden on power grids straining to meet extreme demand for heat and electricity. In Mexico, rolling blackouts Tuesday covered more than one-third of the country after the storms in Texas cut the supply of imported natural gas.
More than 3 million customers remained without power in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, more than 200,000 more in four Appalachian states, and nearly that many in the Pacific Northwest, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks utility outage reports.
The worst U.S. power outages by far have been in Texas, where officials requested 60 generators from the FEMA and planned to prioritize hospitals and nursing homes. The state opened 35 shelters to more than 1,000 occupants, the agency said.
Texas’ power grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said electricity had been restored to 600,000 homes and businesses by Tuesday night but that 2.7 million households were still without power.
President Biden declared a state of emergency for Texas over the weekend.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.