FEMA Denies Aid for West Explosion Victims

From the AP newswire

WEST, TX — The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide additional money to help rebuild the 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 but decided that the explosion “is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration.”

FEMA already has provided millions of dollars in aid to the town of West and its residents, but the decision prevents them from getting some of the widespread assistance typically available to victims of tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

It remains unclear what funds may not be available to individuals, but the decision likely means less money to pay for public repairs to roads, sewer lines, pipes and a school that was destroyed.

FEMA denied the “major disaster declaration” both for public assistance — which would give money to the city to help rebuild — and for further individual assistance.

It’s not unusual for FEMA to turn down that level of assistance for emergencies not stemming from natural disasters. In 2010, for example, officials denied a request for millions in aid after a gas pipeline explosion that consumed a Northern California neighborhood.

Some funds would be available in West through insurance pay outs and because it believes the state or the municipality has the resources to cover the costs, among other things, agency spokesman Dan Watson said in a statement.

So let’s just be clear about a few things here…

FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency, not the Federal “Natural Disaster” Management Agency. Whoever has decided that what happened in West does not qualify as an emergency needs to be fired. It doesn’t matter what caused the explosion because the results are just as horrific and life-altering of a disaster as anything else. In the now famous words of Hillary Clinton, “what difference at this point does it make?”– 15 people are dead and half of a town was destroyed. This is an Emergency in every sense of the word, and these people need help putting their lives back together. They need it NOW. Who cares what the insurance companies may or may not pay? The citizens of West are Americans and taxpayers like everyone else. My tax dollars go to keep this government running, and I can think of no better use for it than to help people when they need help the most.

I live in Texas. I get that there’s a lot of political stunts that get played from a very vocal minority of Texas leaders. Rick Perry loves to throw around the ideas about Secession, and Ted Cruz just says the craziest crap he can think to say. But this isn’t about politics. This is about people that have suffered a great deal of physical, mental and emotional stress. They’re not the ones getting on TV making speeches. They are people just like you and me. And if you had suffered the loss of so much at one time, you would need help too.

For the sake of all of these people, I hope that FEMA Director Craig Fugate reconsiders this decision, and fast. The people of West don’t have time to be caught in political battles. West needs us right now.

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