By DARLENE SUPERVILLE Associated Press\r\n\r\nWASHINGTON (AP) \u2014 Add Mother Nature to the pile of crises on President Joe Biden's plate.\r\n\r\nA month into the job and focused on the coronavirus, Biden is seeing his disaster management skills tested after winter storms plunged Texas, Oklahoma and neighboring states into an unusual deep freeze that left millions shivering in homes that lost heat and power, and in many homes, water.\r\n\r\nAt least 69 deaths across the U.S. have been blamed on the blast of unseasonable weather.\r\n\r\nThe White House announced on Saturday that the president had declared a major disaster in Texas, and he has asked federal agencies to identify additional resources to address the suffering.\r\n\r\nBiden came into office Jan. 20 promising 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.\r\n\r\nBiden said 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.\r\n\r\n"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.\r\n\r\nBiden, who 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 \u2014 and to avoid repeating the mistakes of predecessors who got tripped up by inadequate or insensitive responses in times of disaster.\r\n\r\nPart of the job of being 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.\r\n\r\nSome have handled such situations better than others.\r\n\r\nGeorge W. Bush earned praise 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.\r\n\r\nBarack 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 on Martha's Vineyard at the time.\r\n\r\nDonald 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."\r\n\r\nBill Clinton, who famously claimed during the 1992 presidential campaign that "I feel your pain," was a natural at connecting with disaster victims.\r\n\r\nJust this week, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas showed how quickly one bad move during a crisis can become a public relations disaster for a politician.\r\n\r\nCruz came under attack for traveling to Mexico while his constituents suffered without power, heat and running water. His explanation \u2014 that his daughters pushed for the getaway because they were out of school \u2014 was particularly panned. Cruz later said the trip was a mistake.\r\n\r\nBiden has tweeted about Texas and the other affected states, while the White House has issued numerous statements aimed at demonstrating that the federal government is in command of the situation. The president is getting regular updates from his staff and already declared states of emergency in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana \u2014 adding the disaster designation announced Saturday for Texas.\r\n\r\nThe Federal Emergency Management Agency has shipped dozens of generators and supplies, including fuel, water, blankets and ready-to-eat meals, to the affected areas.\r\n\r\nBiden has spoken to the governors of the seven states most affected by the winter weather. He tweeted a photo of himself on the phone with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas.\r\n\r\nOklahoma's Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, a staunch supporter of Trump's, was quick to praise Biden for swift action on a disaster declaration.\r\n\r\nAfter speaking with Biden by telephone earlier this week, Stitt specifically thanked the president for "taking the time to reach out this afternoon and offer the federal government's help for Oklahomans. We had a very productive call and I look forward to working together to find solutions as we recover from this historic storm."\r\n\r\nBarbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, said Biden is "well-suited" to deal with the disaster because of his decades of service in the U.S. Senate and as a former vice president and because of "his genuine concern for people."\r\n\r\n"He's got to show empathy right off the bat," Perry said in an interview. "It's important for a president to go to a place that's been battered, but be careful about the footprint. He doesn't want to make things worse."\r\n\r\nBiden, should he decide to visit Texas next week, could also use the trip to press his point that climate change is real and must not go unaddressed, and that the state could do things like winterize its power plants to be better prepared for future storms, Perry said.\r\n\r\nBut he should take care to not do so in a scolding kind of way.\r\n\r\n"We know he cares about climate change, and this is a way to convince people," Perry said.\r\n\r\n___\r\n\r\nAssociated Press writer Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.