The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied additional aid to the Texas town devastated by a massive fertilizer plant explosion in April that leveled homes and could be felt as far as 80 miles away, Gov. Rick Perry's office confirmed to NBC News Tuesday
Perry's office said it received a letter from FEMA administrator Craig Fugate saying that the devastated town would not receive funds from the agency.
FEMA said in the letter that the damage from the explosion "is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration," according to the Associated Press.
The explosion in West, Texas on the evening of April 17 killed 15 people and injured hundreds more. Twelve of the dead were first responders who were battling a blaze at the West Fertilizer Co. plant on the outskirts of town before it exploded.
In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, FEMA spokesman Dan Watson said the agency had provided over $7 million in federal funds directly to families affected by the disaster, as well as emergency housing assistance and funds to help the state remove debris.
The town of about 2,800 people had asked for a total of about $57 million for work that included road repairs and included $40 million to rebuild a school flattened in the explosion, the AP reported.
“We don’t have the money to go out and borrow the money. We don’t have the means to pay that note back,” West Mayor Tommy Muska told the AP. “There’s got to be some public assistance.”
President Barack Obama and Texas Governor Rick Perry were in communication in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, and Perry said the president called from Air Force One to offer his support. The White House also indicated that federal agencies would support the town’s recovery in a statement.
“My administration, through FEMA and other agencies, is in close contact with our state and local partners on the ground to make sure there are no unmet needs as search and rescue operations continue,” the president said in an April press release. “West is a town that many Texans hold near and dear to their hearts, and as residents continue to respond to this tragedy, they will have the support of the American people.”
Insured losses from the blast could total more than $100 million, the Insurance Council of Texas has estimated.