AUSTIN, Texas – In the nearly eight weeks since the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion, the state of Texas and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have had personnel in West working side by side with local officials and the community to help them recover.
On April 19, 2013, an Emergency Declaration was granted for the explosion in West, Texas providing immediate financial assistance to assist the state in the response. FEMA personnel arrived April 20 to begin preliminary damage assessments of homes and businesses affected by the explosion.
“We have physically been in the City of West since April 20 working alongside survivors, the city of West and McLennan County to maximize our efforts under the current Emergency Declaration,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin L. Hannes of FEMA. “There is a lot of work that remains to be done. FEMA in partnership with the state of Texas will have a presence in West as long as needed.”
On May 1, the Emergency Declaration was amended to include the Individual and Households Program. The state and FEMA opened a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in West on May 4 to begin helping survivors with applying for federal disaster assistance. The center transitioned to a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Outreach Center June 3. Since the opening on May 4, the center has received more than 1200 new and repeat visitors.
Even though the SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center closed June 13, FEMA personnel including Individual Assistance and Public Assistance specialists will remain at that location to continue to work with survivors. FEMA specialists will be available at the POINTWEST bank to help register survivors, accept and process additional insurance documentation and provide residents with the status of their applications until the registration period ends June 18.
“We are committed to registering every eligible survivor,” Hannes said. “We have registered 789 survivors so far and we are proactively contacting each applicant once again as part of a 100 percent review and outreach initiative. To date, more than $7.6 million in federal disaster assistance has been approved for survivors.”
FEMA continues to have personnel in West and in Austin actively working with state and local officials to prepare Public Assistance project worksheets for reimbursement of costs related to emergency protective measures and debris removal authorized under the current Federal Emergency Declaration. “We are working diligently to reimburse the City of West, McLennan County and the State of Texas for expenses incurred while performing life-saving and emergency protective measures immediately following the explosion,” Hannes continued.
More than $1.1 million in Public Assistance funds have been obligated to the state to reimburse agencies that responded to the explosion. Under a cost-sharing formula, FEMA reimburses the state for 75 percent of the total costs while the state and/or applicant cover the remaining 25 percent.
Survivors who have not registered with FEMA can do so by going online at www.disasterassistance.gov or via web-enabled phone at m.fema.gov. They may also call 1-800-621-3362 or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Survivors who use 711 Relay or Video Relay Services may call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers are available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. The registration deadline is June 18.