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FEMA announces extra aid for Texas town decimated by blast

By CNN Staff
updated 10:15 PM EDT, Fri August 2, 2013
Forensic mappers work the crater at the site of a fire and explosion in West, Texas, on April 24, 2013. The West Fertilizer Co. plant in the small Texas town exploded days earlier on April 17, killing 15 people. Forensic mappers work the crater at the site of a fire and explosion in West, Texas, on April 24, 2013. The West Fertilizer Co. plant in the small Texas town exploded days earlier on April 17, killing 15 people.
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Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
Texas fertilizer plant explodes
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • April 17 blast in Texas town killed 15 people
  • Rick Perry lauds the state appeal for a disaster declaration
  • FEMA denied a request in June for a "major disaster" area

(CNN) -- The Obama administration has issued a disaster declaration for the Texas town hit by fertilizer plant blasts in April.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Friday aid for the area affected by the tragedy in the town of West.

Federal funding will supplement state and local recovery efforts "for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the explosion in McLennan County," FEMA said.

The April 17 fire led to simultaneous blasts at a fertilizer distribution facility, killing 15 and decimating homes, businesses and more within 37 blocks.

This decision came after FEMA in June told Gov. Rick Perry it was denying a request to declare the small town a "major disaster" area, a move sharply criticized by local and state officials.

U.S. President Barack Obama attends a memorial service at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, on April 25. The memorial was held for those killed in the blast at a Texas fertilizer plant. Fourteen people, nearly all first responders, died in an explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. on April 17. See photos from the explosion. U.S. President Barack Obama attends a memorial service at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, on April 25. The memorial was held for those killed in the blast at a Texas fertilizer plant. Fourteen people, nearly all first responders, died in an explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. on April 17. See photos from the explosion.
West, Texas: A community mourns
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West, Texas: A community mourns West, Texas: A community mourns

The letter from FEMA spokesman Craig Fugate noted Obama had previously issued an emergency declaration and other measures that paved the way for some direct federal assistance.

"Based on our review of all of the information available, it has been determined that the remaining costs for permanent work is within the capabilities of the state and affected local governments," Fugate said at the time. "Accordingly, we have determined that a major disaster declaration is not necessary."

After the Friday announcement, Perry, who slammed the FEMA move two months ago, lauded a successful state appeal of the initial federal move.

"The approval of the state's appeal for a major disaster declaration is great and welcome news for the people of West," Perry said. "I appreciate everyone who joined me in standing with the people whose lives have been forever impacted to move this appeal forward, especially our congressional delegation."

Perry said the federal action and the state legislature's disaster relief funding "will help this community rebuild their infrastructure, school district and public works as quickly as possible."

A fire at the facility operated by West Fertilizer Company set off two explosions that registered on seismographs as a magnitude-2.1 earthquake and were felt 50 miles away. The blasts leveled a portion of the town, damaging numerous homes, a nursing home and the town's high school and middle school.

According to local officials, the city is still well short of the $17 million it needs to repair roads, water and sewage lines and other damaged infrastructure.

CNN's Elwyn Lopez contributed to thsi report

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