WEST (July 13, 2013) -- Gov. Rick Perry Saturday told about 400 people in the town still reeling from the deadly fertilizer plant explosion three months ago that the state will work to help rebuild West.
Texans "will not give up on you," Perry said Saturday afternoon at the West Disaster Benefit Czech Dinner and Dance.
The event benefited the West Long-Term Recovery Fund, which is raising money and gathering volunteers to help with the rebuilding of the town.
Perry is pressing President Barack Obama and federal officials to reconsider their denial of major emergency aid.
The state is seeking a major disaster declaration for West, which would allow the community to seek federal assistance to repair schools and infrastructure damaged in the April 17 explosion.
But despite President Barack Obama’s vow not to forget the community as he spoke at a memorial service for the first responders killed in the explosion, FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, in denying the designation, said “this event is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration.”
"We greatly appreciate the president being here and he stood before the people of West and said 'were going to be there for you' I expect most people took that to mean that when the disaster declaration went in, that there would be dollars forthcoming. We expect the president to live up to his word,” Perry said Saturday.
Three of West’s four schools were damaged in the blast, two of them beyond repair.
The architectural firm the school district hired said the intermediate and high schools should be demolished, but said the gym and original high school building on the middle school campus can be salvaged, although the rest of the school should also be bulldozed.
The cost of rebuilding could top $100 million, officials said, $60 million of which is covered by the district’s insurance policy.
West Mayor Tommy Muska has said the explosion destroyed 161 homes, 58 of which were not insured, and caused major damage to another 52, 21 of which were uninsured. Of the 46 homes that sustained minor damage, 25 were uninsured.
The Insurance Council of Texas, an insurance industry trade group, estimated that insured losses from the fertilizer plant explosion will likely exceed $100 million.
The explosion did about $17 million in damage primarily to West’s water and sewer systems, but the owners of the fertilizer plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it won’t provide money to help rebuild the damaged infrastructure.