FEMA Reversal is Welcomed in Texas Town Damaged by Fertilizer Plant Blast

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved additional funding to help rebuild the small Texas town where an April fertilizer plant explosion leveled homes, damaged buildings and killed 15 people.

President Barack Obama has issued a "major disaster declaration" for the community of West, near Waco. That frees up federal support to supplement state and local reconstruction efforts.

FEMA had already provided millions of dollars in aid. But in June, it denied the state's original application for major disaster funding, saying the explosion was "not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration." That ruling affected both funding for the city to rebuild, and further individual aid for crisis counseling and other services.

Gov. Rick Perry calls the reversal "great and welcome news for the people of West." And the mayor of the town says he's glad FEMA changed its decision.

The explosion was triggered by a fire at the West Fertilizer Company. Among the 15 dead were 10 first-responders who had been rushing to fight the initial blaze. Parts of three schools were damaged, and hundreds of older students had to be bused to a Waco-area school district.

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