"Obama Broke Promise", Lawmakers Plan Appeal to FEMA - KXXV Central Texas News Now

"Obama Broke Promise", Lawmakers Plan Appeal to FEMA


Lawmakers in Washington D.C. and Austin were shocked and disappointed by FEMA's denial of emergency funds for West.  They are also promising to appeal that decision until a promise made by President Obama is upheld.

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.

State Senator Brian Birdwell of Granbury said he was stunned by FEMA's denial.  Governor Rick Perry alluded to the memorial service for West victims April 25th at Baylor's Ferrell Center.

"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," the governor said in a statement.

Congressman Bill Flores, whose District 17 includes West, recalled the president's speech that day and what happened afterward.

"At the conclusion of the evening he invited Senator Cruz, Governor Perry and me to go backstage to snap a few pictures and he reiterated the federal government would do whatever needed to be done to get West back on its feet," he remembered.

Flores promised "Governor Perry, Senator Cornyn, Senator Cruz and I plan to hold him (the President) to his word.  The governor will appeal the decision until we get the aid the Stafford Act says is promised under law by FEMA."

The congressman told News Channel 25 he believes West qualifies for "major disaster declaration" assistance and that includes certain categories of help.

West is asking for $57 Million in funding to repair damage to schools, roads and infrastructure. 

Congressman Flores says the application procedure is structured.  "They will go through pre-decisional stage and then they will make a recommendation to the president.  Then President Obama makes the final decision.

Earlier this week, West ISD changed its plans for a playing surface for a new football field at the high school complex.  It originally wanted to install a $900k artificial turf field, but after a letter from Flores urged them to reconsider, the school moved to a much cheaper plan to install grass on that field.

Flores didn't know if that was a factor in the relief decision, but he admitted the day the school district made that decision was the same day FEMA handed down it's decision.

"I don't know if it played a part in it or not, but it would have been good to have to have that off the table further in advance," he said.

The Bryan lawmaker also said he'd heard the claims that FEMA always denied first applications, and people needed to be persistent.

"FEMA occasionally will issue a series of denials and you get into a process of attrition, they'll deny it, we appeal, and hopefully eventually wear you down," Flores added.

He says he plans to contact all the state's senators and owners for a medal melt down and urge them to support those who lost their homes.    

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