FEMA tours West Middle School damage - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

FEMA tours West Middle School damage

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FEMA took a tour of West Middle School Thursday amidst an appeal in the works for more money for West.

The state of Texas is working on an appeal to have FEMA declare a major disaster after the West Fertilizer Plant explosion on April 17. FEMA denied the original application this month saying the state did not give enough evidence it cannot cover the cost of recovery.

The West ISD though, has qualified for money for the temporary school campus according to superintendent Marty Crawford. He says FEMA came down Thursday so they can be a part of the process if the school is qualified for more money in the future. He says FEMA asked for a tour of the damage.

"Certainly we are inclusive with them and we want to be transparent with the process and they engaged us and we said come on," Crawford said.

State officials and the architect hired by the school gave the tour mainly talking with an architect sent by FEMA. They went through multiple buildings, some that are set for demolition, some that can be repaired.

"It's time to move forward, it's time to take these down and do the right thing for the students of West ISD and the community of West," Crawford said.

The school wants to demolish the cafetorium, which includes the cafeteria, auditorium and band hall, the old gymnasium and multiple maintenance buildings. They want to keep, for now, the annex building, new gymnasium and the old high school building. The insurance, though, says the cafetorium can be repaired.

"We're still competing with them on determining what the conditions of that facility are. We have a stance, they have a stance and we're hoping that we can find common ground and agree upon these facilities," Crawford said.

The major reason for needing demolition are cracks in the walls and steel in the buildings.

As for FEMA, officials say they could provide more money. The school just has to settle things with insurance first.

"We need to get all the papers from insurance, all the evaluations from the school, engineers and also we do our own evaluation of everything and this is a normal process required to provide money after a disaster," FEMA spokesperson Carmen Rodriguez said.

Crawford says the tour is just a step in the process on the road to recovery, but it wasn't easy. He says even now it can be hard to tour the classrooms.

"As many times as I've been in these facilities and seeing the condition that they're in knowing that we've had kids in these school buildings, that we potentially could've had kids in these school buildings at the time of the event," Crawford said.

The school hopes to demolish the first building on the middle school campus by July 1. That will hold 7th-12th grade students on a temporary campus. Classes are set to begin August 26.

 

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