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Biden grants federal disaster declaration for Beryl

The White House has granted a federal disaster declaration for Texas following the destruction caused by Hurricane Beryl.

Acting Gov. Dan Patrick announced that the emergency disaster declaration had been approved on Tuesday.

“I’ve just spoken with President Biden. I’ve requested a federal emergency disaster declaration through FEMA to cover all costs for Category A (Debris) and Category B (Emergency Protective Measures),” Patrick said. 

“FEMA’s assistance with these costs will expedite the recovery process and help ensure the safety of Texans impacted by Hurricane Beryl. The president granted my request.”

Patrick is temporarily overseeing emergency response as Gov. Greg Abbott is overseas on a pre-planned trade mission to Asia.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials have been in Texas alongside state resources since before Hurricane Beryl made landfall early Monday morning. The declaration opens the door for federal financial assistance to restore damaged property and authorizes miscellaneous measures of emergency response.

The hurricane reached the state on Monday, bringing loads of rain and winds up to 90 miles per hour. It has since knocked out power for millions of customers in the state — as high as 2.7 million and currently 2.2 million — and caused flooding across East Texas. The vast majority of those outages are within CenterPoint’s service area, currently at 1.7 million. CenterPoint brought in over 11,000 workers from other parts of Texas and out of state to restore power as quickly as possible.

CenterPoint’s Monday update said it estimates a full restoration of power for 1 million customers by the end of Wednesday.

When asked on Tuesday about CenterPoint, Patrick said, "CenterPoint will have to answer for themselves if they were prepared and positioned. The state was positioned and prepared. I'll tell you whether I'm satisfied or not when I have a full report on where their crews were [and] how quickly they get power back."

A CenterPoint spokesperson told KPRC, "Right now, we're in the damage assessment period. Once that is over, we'll put full focus on restoring power."

State officials warned that if running a generator while the power is out, to be wary of their fumes to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. They recommend running generators outside and away from open windows.

Officials estimated that it’d take a few days to fully restore power. State and local cooling centers are open across the state’s affected area for those out of power while summer temperatures rise.

The storm first hit between Corpus Christi and Galveston then moved into Houston and up through the eastern part of the state, exiting Texas early Tuesday morning. Though the storm itself is out of the state, winds or rain may still hit parts of Texas.

Patrick declared a disaster for 121 counties in Texas as Beryl reached the Gulf Coast.

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