By Rebecca Fiedler
West Independent School District was given $20.8 million Monday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help repair the district’s high school and intermediate school, which were severely damaged during the April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion.
Rebuilding the two schools will cost West ISD approximately $60 million. The school district’s insurance will cover around $45 million, and the grant money from FEMA will cover the remaining expenses.
“These grants could not come at a better time, as West ISD is hoping to start construction of new school facilities in the near future,” said Texas Rep. Bill Flores in a press release Monday. “With the help of these grants, the students will soon be able to leave their current environment in temporary facilities for permanent classrooms and facilities.”
This past year FEMA had initially denied Individual Assistance grants to individuals and households affected in West. FEMA expanded its funding in May 2013 to cover these areas once Gov. Rick Perry spoke out about the issue.
“The day of the West memorial service, President Obama stood in front of a grieving community and told them they would not be forgotten,” a statement from Perry in June 2013 states. “He said his administration would stand with them, ready to help. We anticipate the president will hold true to his word and help us work with FEMA to ensure much-needed assistance reaches the community of West.”
President Barack Obama declared a state of disaster in August 2013 to the state of Texas. He had previously declared it a state of emergency in April 2013, which authorized FEMA to provide 75 percent federal funding in relief assistance. FEMA had sent relief personnel to West for weeks after the explosion, and obligated nearly $2.8 million to West ISD in August 2013.