President Barack Obama today approved the state of Texas’ request to declare a “major disaster” in the aftermath of the deadly blast in West, clearing the way for federal dollars and staff assistance to the hard-hit town.
The president’s announcement amounted to a reversal of an earlier rejection of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s request for a White House “major disaster” declaration for West.
Perry one-upped the administration by releasing his reaction to the announcement before the White House even issued the order.
Although details were not available this morning, Perry had appealed FEMA’s June denial of additional funding and requested more than $35 million in assistance.
“The approval of the state’s appeal for a major disaster declaration is great and welcome news for the people of West. I appreciate everyone who joined me in standing with the people whose lives have been forever impacted to move this appeal forward, especially our congressional delegation, “Gov. Perry said in a statement.
“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 added.
According to the White House release, “federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the explosion in McLennan County.
West Mayor Tommy Muska got word Friday morning that his town would be receiving federal aid and said the news was a huge weight off his shoulders.
State Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Grandbury, took to social media to express his gratitude, tweeting “Thanks to ALL who joined us in this effort!”
It was initially unclear how much aid West would be eligible for, but Rep. Bill Flores, R-Byan, whose district includes West, previously said the decision could mean a difference of more than $20 million.
The aid will likely go toward damaged roads, pipes and sewage systems in West, as well as toward rebuilding the schools that were destroyed in the blast.
More links on Explosion
More links on FEMA