State News

Jun 12, 2013 12:16 PM by Associated Press

FEMA Denies Aid to Texas for West Blast

HOUSTON (AP) - The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide money to help rebuild the small Texas town where a deadly fertilizer plant explosion leveled numerous homes and a school, and killed 15 people.

According to a letter obtained by The Associated Press, FEMA said it reviewed the state's appeal to help West but decided that the explosion "is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration." FEMA has, however, provided emergency funds to individual residents.

West Mayor Tommy Muska said the rural community of 2,800 people needed the money to repair roads, the damaged sewer system and a school. He said the estimated cost of those repairs is $57 million, including $40 million to rebuild a school that was destroyed when the West Fertilizer Co. blew up in April.

"We don't have the money to go out and borrow the money. We don't have the means to pay that note back," Muska said. "There's got to be some public assistance."

FEMA did not immediately return a call seeking comment. FEMA's letter, dated June 10, is addressed to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and signed by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.

The blast killed 10 first responders and brought national attention to the agricultural community. President Barack Obama traveled to the area to attend a memorial service for the first responders and others who died trying to help.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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