The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to make any additional funds available to West, Texas. FEMA claims to have reviewed the state’s request and has decided the extent of damage in the town ravaged by a fertilizer plant explosion April 17, 2013 that took 15 lives and leveled dozens of homes, ripped up the city sewer system, destroyed two schools, damaged roads and countless other types of destruction fails to meet the agency’s definition of a major disaster area.
“I’m just very disappointed,” Cheryl Marak told KTRH. Marak is a member of the city council in West and owns her own real estate firm. “And really confused. We just don’t understand what their definition of a disaster is.”
“We’ve lost so much,” Marak continues, trying to come to terms with how the city will rebuild following the federal agency’s decision. “We lost 65% of our sewer water revenue, 35% in additional tax revenue. We lost three schools, a lot of people are unemployed.” She cites the closing of the nursing home and the fertilizer plant as examples of just some of the jobs that no longer exist in town.
Governor Perry issued a statement shortly after reports of the FEMA decision were made public.
“The day of the West memorial service,” says Governor Perry in the statement. “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.”
“It’s really just devastating,” said Marak. “I would just like for them to give citizens a definition of why. What would it take to decide this was a major disaster area? If the whole town had been blown up?”