FEMA denies aid for West infrastructure rebuild - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

FEMA denies aid for West infrastructure rebuild

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide money to help rebuild the infrastructure of 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.

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, FEMA officials said a number of factors are considered when requesting a major disaster declaration - including insurance coverage.

"FEMA considers the amount of insurance coverage that is in force at the time of the disaster and reduce the amount of anticipated assistance by that amount," said FEMA spokesman Dan Watson in a prepared statement. "FEMA, by law, cannot duplicate benefits provided by insurance companies or other federal agencies."

FEMA said it has provided federal funding that, according to its estimates, covered 75 percent of the state's clean up costs and other emergency measures.

FEMA added it has given more than $7 million in direct federal disaster assistance grants and low-interest loans to eligible families and individuals.

West Mayor Tommy Muska said the rural community of 2,800 people needed the denied 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'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.

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