West blast: Texans in Congress set party aside to demand major disaster declaration
WASHINGTON – Nothing like tragedy to bring people together: Nearly the entire Texas congressional delegation has linked arms to prod the White House for a “major disaster” declaration in West, the Central Texas town partly leveled by a fertilizer blast.
FEMA denied Gov. Rick Perry’s request last month, finding that Texas can afford the $17.5 million in rebuilding costs the state identified beyond the costs covered by insurance or the emergency declaration President Barack Obama signed after the April disaster.
Perry appealed that on Tuesday. Although his letter listed only $1 million more in unmet costs, it also noted that the local school district eventually faces a shortfall topping $55 million to rebuild. FEMA has 90 days to review the appeal.
“As the appeal clearly outlines, the damages to public infrastructure in the City of West exceeded the federally-determined threshold required” for a major disaster declaration, states the letter, signed by Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and Rep. Bill Flores, all Republicans.