West mayor 'shocked and disappointed' by FEMA decision

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by TODD UNGER

Bio | Email | Follow: @toddWFAA8

WFAA

Posted on June 12, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 12 at 6:18 PM

WEST, Texas — Town officials were floored to learn this week that the state's request for an emergency disaster declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was again being denied.

The news came in a letter addressed to Gov. Rick Perry.

West Mayor Tommy Muska told News 8 that up to $57 million would have been available if FEMA allowed the designation.

"I look out my window every day and I see what a disaster looks like," he said.

Specifically, about $17 million would have gone toward repairing the town's actual infrastructure, like water lines and roads.

The remaining amount would go toward West schools, which lost a number of buildings in the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion.

"I'm shocked and disappointed," Muska said.

The state can appeal the decision on behalf of the town within 30 days.

FEMA released the following statement to News 8:

"On April 19, 2013, hours after the incident, President Barack Obama declared an emergency for the explosion in West, Texas, providing immediate financial assistance to the state as it responded to the explosion.

"On May 1, FEMA approved additional assistance to be provided directly to survivors — including direct federal funding for families as well as assistance for emergency housing. As additional needs for the state were identified, and at the request of the Governor, FEMA 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.

"Since that time, 775 individuals have registered with FEMA for assistance, and FEMA and the SBA have provided more than $7 million in direct federal disaster assistance grants and low-interest disaster loans for eligible individuals and families.

"FEMA’s public assistance personnel at the Joint Field Office in West, TX and in the field are actively working with state and local officials to prepare project worksheets for reimbursement of costs related to debris removal and emergency protective measures."

E-mail tunger@wfaa.com

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