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Extreme weather testing Joe Biden’s disaster management skills

US Prez, who offered himself as the empathetic candidate, wants to avoid repeating the mistakes of predecessors who got flak for insensitive responses during disasters

A pedestrian walks by a billboard truck with an image of SenatorTed Cruz in Houston. Cruz is facing criticism after he left Texas to go to Mexico with his family during an unprecedented winter storm. Pic/AFP

Add Mother Nature to the pile of crises on President Joe Biden’s plate.

A month into the job and focused on the Coronavirus, Biden is seeing his disaster management skills tested after winter storms plunged Texas, Oklahoma and neighbouring states into an unusual deep freeze that left millions shivering in homes that lost heat and power, and in many homes, water.

Joe Biden

At least 59 deaths across the US have been blamed on the blast of unseasonable weather. Biden said 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. Biden is working on several fronts to address the situation—and to avoid repeating the mistakes of his predecessors.

George W Bush stumbled during his administration’s halting response to the humanitarian disaster that unfolded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. Barack Obama 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 at Martha’s Vineyard at the time.

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