Feds approve Texas' request for West recovery

Feds approve Texas' request for West recovery
The Texas Tribune/Mike Stone, Bay Area News
Friday, August 2, 2013 - 12:46pm

The West community will receive additional federal funding to rebuild following the explosion of a fertilizer depot in April that killed 15 people and flattened much of the town, Gov. Rick Perry announced on Friday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided millions of dollars in aid immediately after the explosion, but the agency initially rejected the state’s request for additional financial assistance. The state’s appeal, submitted in early June, has now been approved, and President Obama has signed a major disaster declaration for the area, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts.

“This, along with the disaster relief funding provided by the Texas Legislature, will help this community rebuild their infrastructure, school district and public works as quickly as possible,” Perry said in a press release.

During the regular legislative session, the lawmakers also appropriated $15 million to the governor’s office for disaster recovery for communities like West and Bastrop, which battled a devastating 32,000-acre brush fire in 2011.

Josh Havens, a Perry spokesman, said the governor’s office is working with each community to determine how the aid will be appropriated.

Federal funding will cover rebuilding the town’s infrastructure, roadways and the school district, all of which were damaged by the blast.

FEMA will send a team to West to work with the community in assessing potential projects that will fall under a reimbursement process for rebuilding costs, Havens said.

FEMA has appointed Kevin L. Hannes to serve as the federal coordinating officer for the recovery operations in the area, according to a press release from the White House.

West Mayor Tommy Muska previously told The Dallas Morning News that additional funding was needed to cover an estimated $57 million in damages.

The Obama administration said local governments and certain private nonprofit organization will be eligible to receive federal funding on a “cost-sharing” basis to repair or replace damaged facilities in McLennan County and implement hazard mitigation measures at the state level.

Obama signed an executive order on Thursday to improve the oversight of dangerous chemicals nationally, directing federal agencies to redefine standards and improve communication with state and local officials to prevent similar disasters.


This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/08/02/feds-approve-texas-request-west-recovery/.

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