West residents face piles of paperwork - KXXV Central Texas News Now

West residents face piles of paperwork


After the explosion, West residents spent their days sifting through piles of rubble.  Now, they're sifting through piles of paperwork.

Pee Wee and Beulah Zahirniak live just a couple of blocks from the West fertilizer plant.  After the blast, they lost nearly everything.  So they turned to local charities and government agencies for help.

Beulah says, "At that time we did not know what our insurance was going to pay off.  If you have money left over and want to give it to a charity down the line, then you help them.So that's all I can tell these people. Don't be to proud to ask."

Local leaders say registering for disaster assistance from FEMA is a must. But there is a catch.

West Long-Term Recovery Center's Interim Director Karen Bernsen says, "You're guaranteed to be denied the first time. Guaranteed. That's what they told us and that's been true."

A FEMA spokesperson says that is snot the case, but she admits that many people are denied during the initial application process.  Applications have to be perfect. One un-checked box can lead to rejection.  That's why West residents are being encouraged to re-apply again and again no matter what.

Bernsen says, "Let's say 6 months down the road, you realize your foundation was adversely affected. And your doors aren't just sticking, but now they're not closing and so your structure is having latent issues. If you didn't start the process when the window was open, you're going to be out of luck."

That's why the Zahirniak's didn't take any chances. They spent nearly 45 years on their lot and plan on living there for many more.

Beulah says, "We're going to come back and we're going to be stronger. We won't have our house back, but we'll make new memories. We're here to do that. And the one up above is who we have to thank for that."

The deadline to register for FEMA disaster assistance is June 18th.  To apply, call 1-800-621-FEMA or visit www.disasterassistance.gov

































































































































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