FEMA’s ‘About Face’ on the West Explosion

Definitely better late than never.

In a surprising reversal that was cloaked by a late Friday news cycle, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)has now declared the April 17th explosion in West, Texas a major disaster. President Obama had already signed the disaster declaration when news of this change was revealed. And this is quite the surprise given what FEMA said after its June analysis. Here’s more from Matthew DeLuca of NBC News…

“The Federal Emergency Management Agency in June denied additional money to the town. In a letter to Gov. Rick Perry explaining the decision, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said the damage from the massive explosion was “not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration,” according to The Associated Press.

The town had asked for a total of about $57 million to help repair the damage, the AP reported. That number included $40 million to help rebuild a school destroyed in the explosion. In June, the Insurance Council of Texas estimated that totaled insured losses from the blast could top $100 million.

Perry, who had written a letter to Obama protesting the earlier denial of a presidential disaster declaration, said in a statement on Friday that the federal aid will help the proud town of about 2,800 people piece itself back together.

“The approval of the state’s appeal for a major disaster declaration is great and welcome news for the people of West,” Perry said in the 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.”

The White House release on Friday said that the federal funding would be “available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the explosion in McLennan County.”

A spokesman for FEMA did not immediately reply to requests for comment on Friday.”

Obviously this is very good news for the victims of such a horrific incident. In June, when FEMA first denied the disaster declaration request, I wrote in vehement opposition to that decision, so I am very glad that it no longer stands. But it’s still important to ask… why play the political games in the first place? When American citizens are in trouble from a any catastrophic event, their government should be the FIRST ones to help, not the last. Anything less than that is simply unacceptable. Our lawmakers and government officials have plenty to fight about. I hope that someday soon, we can remove catastrophic events from the ring, and just do the right thing for the people in need.

Why I’m Starting Donations

As some readers may have guessed, Texas Leftist is a volunteer enterprise that I started back in 2010. At the time, I had hoped to cover some municipal issues, and focus on the Texas Gubernatorial elections. As Houston mayor Bill White was running for Governor at the time, it seemed like a good idea. But besides just rants on a page, it was important to me to express my thoughts in the context of a fact-based argument. To do that consistently requires a lot of time researching, fact-checking, calling people for clarification about things, trying to go to a crazy number of events, etc. Which is why after exactly 4 blog posts, I was done, realizing that the whole endeavor was way over my head.

But at the beginning of 2012, I couldn’t be silent any longer. The Presidential election (and all of the lies that surrounded it) just seemed too critical to not at least try to keep up. In the midst of doing posts like Operation Think Swing Texas or The ABCs of the GOP, I realized that this is something that was important to me. Though there are many outstanding bloggers throughout Texas covering a wide range of important issues, I felt that my voice was needed… is needed as well.

After some prayerful consideration, I’ve decided to add a donations feature to Texas Leftist (via PayPal). These donations are to help keep Texas Leftist going, and hopefully provide for future expansion of the blog and its coverage abilities. Here are my basic goals for this expansion so far…

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