FEMA approves aid for Texas fertilizer plant blast
WEST, TX (KXXV) -
Gov. Rick Perry announced Friday the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved additional funding to help rebuild West.
In a statement Friday, Perry said "the approval of the state's appeal for a major disaster declaration is great and welcome news for the people of West."
The West Fertilizer plant exploded in April, leveling homes, damaging schools and a nursing home and killing 15 people. FEMA provided initial emergency relief, but denied Texas' application for a major disaster declaration in June.
The governor submitted an appeal in early July, and Friday West Mayor Tommy Muska and West ISD Superintendent Marty Crawford were informed of the good news.
"I am very very happy. I am ecstatic. That it has finally come down, and I looking forward to working with the federal government and FEMA and getting our projects lined up and assessed and money coming from them," Muska said.
Crawford added, "Certainly we got a lot of work ahead of us, but at the same time getting this out of the way and the federal government and state government being able to stand beside us as we go forward is outstanding"
Friday's decision by President Obama has given Crawford a sense of future stability for his students and his school district, who were both greatly affected by the West explosion.
Crawford had believed from the beginning that FEMA would pull through for them, and says if it weren't for the state's efforts and the president's promise Friday's decision wouldn't have been possible.
"So whenever you start mentioning who had our back through this whole ordeal you are certainly talking about the president, the governor and Congressman Flores," Crawford said. "Those three individuals right there were really concerned about the citizens and the school children of West and we are very appreciative of that."
Crawford believes funding for the school and the community is vital for not only rebuilding efforts, but also to keep residents in West. That is one thing Mayor Muska can agree with.
"He was exactly right, because it could have easily dried up," Muska said. "That neighborhood could have gone away. And we would have been a reduced smaller town."
Muska says he wasn't expecting a decision from Washington D.C. so soon, but he is happy it turned out well.
"I was expecting a couple of months at least to go by, but I was pleasantly surprised."
Muska and Crawford don't know when those funds will come in, but they both know FEMA's decision is just part of a long process.
"Again I have to learn patience, because I know FEMA is not the easiest people to deal with. and they have their procedures. We are going to follow their procedures to the law," Muska said.
"Our relationship with FEMA doesn't not end today because they declared this major disaster declaration. It actually is just the beginning," Crawford said.
Both men were informed about FEMA's decision by Congressman Bill Flores Friday morning, but they still wait for further instruction. Crawford says for now, his focus is on the first day of school, August 26th, and then he will start thinking about what to do with the incoming funds.