President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, are traveling Friday to Texas to survey damage from last week’s deep freeze, a visit his press secretary said was focused on recovery rather than critique of the state’s response.

Biden and the first lady are headed to Houston to meet with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to discuss ongoing recovery efforts meant to bring Texas back to a state of stability. A severe winter storm last week led to widespread power outages and drinking water shortages.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the visit, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the president was carrying with him a sense of compassion, not criticism.

"There’s plenty of time to have a policy discussion about better weatherization, better preparations, and I’m sure that’s one that will be had,” she said. “But right now we’re focused on getting relief to the people in the state, getting updated briefings, tapping into all of the levers of federal government.”

Texas was largely caught off guard by the abnormal cold. As of Friday morning, some consumers were still without power in central counties, found. At the peak, millions of people were without power in the state.

Biden authorized emergency declarations for Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas after temperatures dipped some 40 degrees Fahrenheit below average for a region that rarely sees snow.

Facing mounting criticism for the power failures, five members resigned from the board of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). The utility company was also sued by the family of a young boy who died of suspected hypothermia.

Abbott was critical of the company, saying that “ERCOT failed to do its job.”

Last week, ERCOT CEO Bill Magness said the state grid was on the verge of collapse after generators went offline. Outages and rolling blackouts were deemed necessary, however, as record demand for electricity overwhelmed the system, he said.

Available power declined quickly as natural gas and coal-fueled power plants went offline along with wind turbines that froze last week.

As of Thursday, Abbott and the Texas Division of Emergency Management was still issuing appeals to the Biden administration to extend the disaster declaration to additional counties. The original declaration from the White House was limited to 77 of the 254 counties in Texas.

"Our partnership with FEMA and the Biden administration has opened up crucial resources for several of our communities,” Abbott said in a statement. “But there are still many counties who need this federal assistance as they recover from this winter storm."

Outside the power failures, water infrastructure froze across the state, prompting authorities to advise residents to boil water while sanitation efforts come back online. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said residents of the city will likely have to boil tap water until at least Monday.

Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden. AFP / MANDEL NGAN