Just about four weeks into his presidency and with attention on the COVID-19 problems, the United States President, Joe Biden is under pressure as his disaster management skills is being tested after winter storms plunged Texas, Oklahoma and neighboring states into an unusual deep freez, which is affecting millions of people that have lost heat and power, and in many homes, water.
Reports have indicated that at least 69 deaths across the U.S. have been due the weather condition.
On Saturday, the White House said Biden had declared a major disaster in Texas and he has asked federal agencies to identify additional resources to address the suffering.
When he was sworn in on January 20, Biden promised to tackle a series of brewing crises, starting with the coronavirus pandemic and its ripple effects on the economy. He tacked on systemic racism and climate change as top priorities. And now he’s contending with storms that have not only imperiled Americans but also delayed the shipment and administration of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines.
The President stated on Friday that he hopes to travel to Texas next week but doesn’t want his presence and the accompanying presidential entourage to distract from the recovery.
“They’re working like the devil to take care of their folks,” Biden said of Texas officials. He said he’d make a decision early next week about travel.
He also offered himself during the campaign as the experienced and empathetic candidate the nation needed at this moment in time, is working on several fronts to address the situation – and to avoid repeating the mistakes of predecessors who got tripped up by inadequate or insensitive responses in times of disaster.
As a matter of fact, among part of the job of a president is responding to the destruction left behind by earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters, or events like deadly mass shootings, or even acts of terrorism.
Ex-President George W. Bush was praised for his leadership after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but stumbled during his administration’s halting response to the humanitarian disaster that unfolded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast four years later.
Barack Obama during his tenure as President said he should have anticipated the blowback he got for going to the golf course right after he condemned the beheading of a kidnapped American journalist by Islamist militants in 2014. Obama was vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard at the time.
While Donald Trump was criticized for tossing rolls of paper towels into a crowd of people in Puerto Rico who had endured Hurricane Maria’s pummeling of the island in 2017. He defended tossing the towels, saying the people were “having fun.”
Bill Clinton, who famously claimed during the 1992 presidential campaign that “I feel your pain,” was a natural at connecting with disaster victims.