FEMA denies aid to Texas for blast - KXXV Central Texas News Now

FEMA denies aid to Texas for blast

FEMA has denied aid and city officials aren't happy.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide money to help rebuild West where a deadly fertilizer plant explosion leveled numerous homes and a school, and killed 15 people.

According to a letter addressed to Governor Perry on June 10, FEMA says it reviewed the state's appeal to help West but decided the impact from the explosion "is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration." FEMA has, however, provided emergency funds to individual residents.

"We cannot go out and borrow money, for this project. We have to have assistance from the government, and the government obviously doesn't think we need any help," West mayor Tommy Muska said.

Muska says the money was needed to cover $57 million in damage, including $40 million to rebuild a destroyed school.

"We go to Afghanistan and Iraq and build cities and we can't rebuild three or four blocks of road in West, Texas, that's pathetic, our government is pathetic," Muska said.

FEMA sent out a statement Wednesday saying they "approved additional public assistance for the state on May 6, providing additional federal funding to cover 75 percent of the state's costs for debris removal and emergency protective measures."

A FEMA spokesperson stationed in West also says they have already made an emergency declaration. The difference between the two declarations is covering public needs for major disasters. Another difference is the magnitude between events.

"If you consider damage at Katrina and the catastrophic damage in hurricane Sandy was, and the disaster declaration for the city of New York and a lot of cities with thousands of residents affected and business and infrastructure, the magnitude is bigger," spokesperson Carmen Rodriguez said.

Muska, though, doesn't understand why the explosion that caused so much damage is not a major disaster.

"I look out my backdoor, I know what a disaster looks like. And if they don't know what a disaster looks like they need to come down here and look at this place again," Muska said.

The West ISD also needs millions. They had $59 million in insurance coverage, but the cost for rebuilding the schools is planned to cost nearly $90 million.

"In baseball terms, when you get two strikes on you, you kind of go into battle mode and we're fouling off fast balls as we speak," West ISD superintendent Marty Crawford said.

Muska is also feeling the heat. He could be out of millions to help his city.

"Do I have to have 20 more firemen die to get help? Is that what it's going to take?"

Governor Perry also sent out a statement Wednesday. He said:

"The day of the west memorial service, president Obama stood in front of a grieving community and told them they would not be forgotten. He said his administration would stand with them, ready to help. We anticipate the president will hold true to his word and help us work with FEMA to ensure much-needed assistance reaches the community of west."

Senator Brian Birdwell also reached out to mayor Muska saying he's going to work with fellow Congressmen to get the decision appealed and ultimately reversed.

Governor Perry has 30 days and two chances to appeal the decision.

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