Lawmakers at the state capitol are outraged by the decision of FEMA officials to deny the town of West continued federal assistance following the fertilizer plant explosion.
According to a report released by the Associated Press, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide West with the funds to help the town rebuild. In a letter from FEMA to state officials, the group has ruled that the plant explosion in West did not meet the criteria for a major disaster declaration.
The town of West has not been without some help by FEMA--the town received several million dollars during the initial response to the plant explosion and has provided $7 million in low-interest loans made available to individual homeowners.
Gov. Rick Perry had his take in a statement to the public:
"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."
Josh Havens is with the governor’s office and said Perry was stunned by FEMA ruling.
"We were under the impression based on conversations that we've been doing and the work we were doing with the FEMA teams on the ground that the community would qualify for this recovery assistance. And so I definitely think it was not expected, I think surprised is more correct than anything," Havens said.
The funds in question would’ve been used by the town to rebuild roads, sewer and water lines and public schools. Havens said going forward there still is a chance for the citizens of West.
"The process allows the state to appeal the decision and I think we have 30 days to make that appeal. I guess the question now is: What do we do going forward?" Havens said.
He said the state will reassess the documentation that was submitted to FEMA that the community met the criteria. In past cases, FEMA has typically awarded a city major disaster assistance following a natural disaster.