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Requirements Vary For FEMA Disaster Assistance

NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - The individual victims of the West explosion are getting help.  To date, 775 home and business owners have registered for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Through FEMA and the Small Business Association (SBA) more than $7 million in grants and low-interest loans have been made available.

But Wednesday's announcement that FEMA has denied disaster money for West, to help it rebuild infrastructure destroyed in April's fertilizer plant explosion, directly affects the city's request for assistance.  Initially, West city officials and the Governor's office asked for $17 million to help fix water and sewer lines and $40 million to help rebuild the schools damaged.  FEMA's decision to deny the request for a major disaster declaration means the city won't be getting that much-needed money.

Despite what people might think, there is no set formula FEMA uses to figure out if they're going to give out government dollars.  But there is a list of things they consider when they're deciding whether to declare something a major disaster.

According to FEMA's website, here are some of those things:

  • Amount and type of damage (number of homes destroyed or with major damage)
  • Impact on the infrastructure of affected areas or critical facilities
  • Imminent threats to public health and safety
  • Impacts to essential government services and functions
  • Unique capability of Federal government
  • Dispersion or concentration of damage
  • Level of insurance coverage in place for homeowners and public facilities
  • Available assistance from other sources (Federal, State, local, voluntary organizations)
  • State and local resource commitments from previous, undeclared events
  • Frequency of disaster events over recent time period

Several sources have told CBS 11 News one thing that probably impacted how much help FEMA was willing to give was the type of disaster that occurred in West.  The West explosion was man-made, not a force of nature.

FEMA representatives, however, would not give any more insight on their decision.

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