WEST (May 5, 2013)—The Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering housing assistance through its Transitional Shelter Assistance program for West residents whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed in the April 17 explosion at West Fertilizer Co.
The blast affected about 350 homes, 150 of which were severely damaged or destroyed.
The program allows eligible residents to stay in a hotel or motel for a limited time, FEMA said.
The agency will pay hotels and motels directly.
Eligible applicants are being notified by phone, FEMA said Sunday.
“Transitional Sheltering Assistance offers disaster survivors temporary accommodations until other housing options can be identified and put in place,” Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin L. Hannes said.
“We are working closely with our state and local partners to develop a long-term housing
Eligible residents must have been displaced from their homes, the homes must be in the 76691 Zip Code, and they must be unlivable, the agency said.
FEMA must confirm applicants’ identities and occupancy of the damaged residences.
The assistance doesn’t cover meals, phone calls and incidental charges and does not reimburse earlier expenses, the agency said.
FEMA opened a Disaster Recovery Center Saturday in West for residents including homeowners, renters and business owners affected by the explosion.
The center will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily at POINTWEST Bank at 201 North Roberts Rd. in West.
Specialists from the state, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration will staff the center to answer residents’ questions and to provide information about the kinds of assistance that are available.
“The recovery center will serve as a one-stop shop for folks who need one-on-one assistance,” Hannes said.
“State and federal professionals will be available to help eligible survivors get help as quickly as possible.”
The original federal emergency declaration was amended to extend assistance to individuals and affected residents can register online, selecting the “EXPLOSION” option and then the “fire/smoke/soot/ash” option, FEMA said.
The explosion affected about 350 homes, 70 of which will have to be razed and 80 more of which may ultimately need to be bulldozed.
Three of West’s four schools were damaged, and two of them, the Intermediate School and High School, are beyond repair.
The explosion destroyed a two-story apartment building and a nursing home, as well.
Some early estimates place total damages at $100 million.