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Federal Disaster Declaration Approved for West, Texas

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

It looks like a denial of federal aid to West, Texas will be overturned.

This morning, Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement saying West – the site of a devastating fertilizer plant explosion that claimed 15 lives and flattened entire city blocks – would benefit from a Major Disaster Declaration.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had previously declined to issue that declaration for West. The state of Texas appealed the ruling, hence today’s decision.

Below, read Gov. Perry’s statement on the reversal. FEMA is expected to issue a statement of its own later today.

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today announced that the Major Disaster Declaration for West, TX has been approved. “The approval of the state's appeal for a major disaster declaration is great and welcome news for the people of West.  I appreciate everyone who joined me in standing with the people whose lives have been forever impacted to move this appeal forward, especially our congressional delegation,” Gov. Perry said. “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.”

In a statement, the White House said the declaration means "federal funding is 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."

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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