Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Request for FEMA Funds Denied After West Fertilizer Plant Explosion

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

The aftermath of the explosion in the small town of West, Texas. FEMA has denied the state's request for funds to rebuild a school and repair roads.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will not provide relief funds requested by Texas to help rebuild the town of West, which was badly damaged (and in some parts, destroyed) by a fertilizer plant explosion in April. As the Associated Press first reported today, Texas’ request for FEMA money to help rebuild roads, a school and a damaged sewer system was denied by the federal agency. In a letter from FEMA to Texas Governor Rick Perry, the agency’s administrator writes that “the impact from this event is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration.” You can read the letter in full below.

The explosion in April killed 15, injured hundreds, and destroyed several buildings and homes, including two schools.

FEMA has provided aid to individual residents and households, but a major disaster declaration and public  would provide money needed to rebuild parts of the city. The agency will also not provide unemployment assistance, crisis counseling, legal services and other aid.

“I consider it a disaster, and the I think the citizens of West deserve to know what criteria the government uses to declare a disaster,” West Mayor Tommy Muska says. “I’m very surprised and very disappointed.” Muska says the city is expected to receive $10 million from the state soon that would be split between the city and the school district, but more is needed.

In a statement, Governor Perry’s spokesperson Josh Havens says that “this explosion has impacted everyone in West in some way, and we are very disappointed that the Administration is denying the people of West this important assistance.” Perry’s office plans to continue to work to see “if there is any additional information that can be provided to FEMA that will get this community the assistance they need, qualify for, and deserve.”

Perry had originally requested a disaster declaration and public assistance in mid-May. FEMA wrote to Perry in a separate letter denying public assistance that “it has been determined that the remaining cost for permanent work is within the capabilities of the state and affected local governments,” according to a letter obtained by StateImpact Texas.

The cause of the fire that led to the explosion is still being investigated, as KUT News reported last month. Investigators believe it could have been started with a fire in the plant’s electrical system, a golf cart battery, or could have been intentionally set. Federal and state investigators have clashed over the investigation, now entering its third month.

Kate McGee of KUT News contributed reporting. 

Read the full letter from FEMA:


  • Debra S

    The audacity …. FEMA is providing for debris removal and small business loans, and has spent millions, btw. But, perhaps, next time, towns and cities won’t build and operate chemical plants next to schools, hospitals, retirement homes, and residential areas. And, perhaps, political people like Rick Perry will see more of the value associated with actually regulating potentially hazardous operations, and supporting the regulators with an ample amount of funding and support. An expensive lesson learned. In the meantime, those in power who hate the government and everything public sector and only see the value in the private sector, go for a private-sector solution: have the company (and its insurance company, providing liability insurance) pay up. It was a technological disaster/catastrophe, manmade, and highly preventable.

  • Dale Swiggett

    While I had followed all proper procedures to supply information to the US Attorneys Office to recover over 200 billion dollars of TARP Fund from all the Troubled Banks.

    The Chronological Video Tape, Pamlico County Minutes, Waterfront Sportsman Magazines and hundreds of documents filed on Pacer in the 5 Federal Court Cases to Recover the Billions of Dollars from the PCS Mine and Synagro Company to Protect the Sovereign Territories, Water and Air Quality under the FBI Counterterrism Program Since 2001 the all responsible agencies in Federal Government.

    Instead of Intervening on behalf of the United States Citizens with legal actions and investigations as detailed in the Program. The Intent of the FBI Program was to act quickly and effectively to address ALL TYPES OF THREATS TO THE UNITED STATES INCLUDING FINACIAL through WHITE COLLAR CRIMES BY ANY PARTIES in ALL 3 BRANCHES of GOVERMENT.


    This FBI Program was created as part of the “Patriot Act” and specially details the Rights and Protections of Whistle Blowers under the 1989 Whistle Blower Protections Act.

    After 8 years and 5 Law Suits that the Attorney Generals knew all the issues from a complete investigation which million more people are sick and many have died. Public documents the Bush and Oboma Administrations have CONTINUED A TITLE 18 RICO TREASON CRIMES of a TEAM of likely 100 Attorneys and Staffers with links to PCS & the TOBBCO CARTEL.

    While the Cover up dates back to ex Gov. James Hunt signing of the PCS Mine permit, President Oboma and the First Lady’s knee jerk reactions that they underestimate as the UNITED STATES LARGEST PROBLEMS that is the source of OBESITY were and continue to be caused by the PCS Mine / Synago.

    I do not believe that any person in the Attorney General’s Office has read or the Obama Administration’s has read the FBI Counterterrism Program Since 2001 PDF]

    The FBI’s Counterterrorism Program


    File format: Adobe PDF

    Report to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States: The FBI’s Counterterrorism Program Since September 2001 U.S. Department of Justice

    to give them Plausible Deniability so they all can play dumb and flounder in US Congressional Hearings just as we have seen in all the Hearings.

    Meanwhile Waterfront Sportsman has a ground swell to most likely the most reliable alternative media in the United States with a Worldwide following.

    In the last 24 hours Waterfront Sportsman Worldwide Researchers discovered that the a Russian electronic publication wrote a very factual article about President Oboma’s promise West Texas.

    The FBI and the State Department need to read alternative media other than Waterfront Sportsman and try to retaliate against the truth.


    Waterfront Sportsman Demands Whistle Blower Fees in the Billions and seeks TARP Funds to Rebuild West Texas.

    Dale Swiggett

    Waterfront Sportsman


    P.S. To save time with the IRS Investigation of the Audit retaliation of M.Dale Swiggett and Waterfront Sportsman start with Attorney James Craven lll in Durham, N.C. and Amy Williams IRS Greensboro, N.C. Office.

    Now the administration, Hillary Clinton, Kay Hagen, and Tom Tillis and are worried to death that the Life and Times of the Whistle Blower and Waterfront Sportsman movie has been on the big screen and on DVD in all of the Red Boxes for a dollar a night for all of my Redneck Friends before 2014 and All of the Attorneys can buy their plea bargains.


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    West, TX denied reconstruction funds despite Obama’s pledge

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    Published time: June 12, 2013 21:00

    Valley Mills Fire Department personnel walk among the remains of an apartment complex next to the fertilizer plant that exploded yesterday afternoon on April 18, 2013 in West, Texas (AFP Photo / Erich Schlegel)

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    Blast, Conflict, Scandal, USA

    The recent deadly blast at a West, Texas fertilizer plant resulted in an estimated $57 million in damages, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide funds to help rebuild the devastated town.

    West Mayor Tommy Muska told AP that the town desperately needs $57 million for repairs, $40 million of which is required to rebuild a school that was destroyed when the fertilizer plant exploded onApril 17, killing 15 people and injuring 200. The explosion was so strong that it blew out windows, registered as a small earthquake, and left a 93-foot crater near the fertilizer plant.

    Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate their homes and several dozen were missing after the blast. Video recordings showed burning houses and a blanket of toxic smoke over the town. Many houses were partially or completely destroyed.

    But despite the costly devastation, FEMA has denied the town’s request for financial assistance. In a letter addressed to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and signed by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, the agency writes that the fertilizer explosion “is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration.”

    The FEMA response contradicts a pledge that President Obama made to help community members rebuild their town. The president issued an Emergency Declaration on April 22and visited West several days later to assure residents that he would help them.

    “We’ll be there even after the cameras leave and after the attention turns elsewhere,” Obama said in a speech held at Baylor University on April 25. “Your country will remain ever ready to help you recover and rebuild and reclaim your community.”

    But according to FEMA, the designated emergency is not severe enough to warrant much of the agency’s assistance. FEMA has provided $5.6 million in emergency funds to individual residents, but refuses to provide assistance that would pay for public repairs on roads, sewer lines, pipes and the destroyed school.

    “We don’t have the money to go out and borrow the money. We don’t have the means to pay that note back,” Muska told AP. “There’s got to be some public assistance.”

    While insurance funds will pay for some of the repairs, FEMA’s assistance is needed to pay for much of the structural damage. Marty Crawford, superintendent of West schools, said that government assistance is particularly important to rebuild the destroyed intermediate school, as well as repair parts of the high school and middle school that were also affected.

    In a FEMA statement obtained by The Hill, spokesman Dan Watson defended the agency’s decision, noting that private insurers were covering most of the costs and that FEMA is prohibited from duplicating them.

    It is unclear how much of the damage will be covered by insurance, but Perry still remains disappointed in FEMA for refusing to help pay for public repairs.

    “This explosion has impacted everyone in West in some way, and we are very disappointed that the administration is denying the people of West this important assistance,” Perry’s spokesman, Josh Haven, told AP.

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    Jessica Hynes 13.06.2013 13:56

    Well Texas has always been really good about pulling together and helping our own. So keep on with the empty promises Obama. West will rise again, with or without your aide.

    Anonymous user 13.06.2013 09:12

    The US government is broke, no money. It all has been stolen by the banksters, 1% pockets kept fat.

    Anonymous user 13.06.2013 00:13

    Thats cause it was blown up by monsanto, part of the defence industry that runs this country.

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