President Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Texas on Saturday, an action that will send federal money to 77 of the state's 254 counties. Gov. Greg Abbott welcomed the announcement but pointed out that he'd requested the declaration for all Texas counties. "While this partial approval is an important first step, Texas will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure all eligible Texans have access to the relief they need," Abbott said. More declarations could follow damage assessments, White House officials said. For now, all counties will receive federal assistance, and the help will include individual assistance in the 77 counties, USA Today reports. The 77 counties include Harris, the home of Houston, which is suffering especially in the aftermath of a severe winter storm, per NBC.
FEMA says individual assistance is direct aid to residents who suffered losses in a disaster; public assistance can be used to repair damaged instrastructure or public facilities. Individuals and business owners will be able to apply for federal emergency aid to cover such costs as temporary housing and for low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses. "This is great news for the people of Dallas after a horrible week," Eric Johnson said Saturday, per the Washington Post, adding that "the disaster declaration will help our city recover." About 80,000 Texas customers still lacked power and heat as of Saturday morning, and more than 14.3 million people in 190 counties were still dealing with interruptions in their water service. More than one-fourth of the nation's power outages Saturday morning were in Texas, per poweroutage.us. (Read more Texas stories.)