Gov. Perry Says Texans Will Help Rebuild West

The April 17 fertilizer plant blast killed 15 people

Gov. Rick Perry on Saturday told about 400 residents in the town where a fertilizer plant exploded that the state will help them rebuild.

"The people of Texas will not give up on you," Perry told those attending the West Disaster Benefit Czech Dinner and Dance. The event benefits the West Long-Term Recovery Fund, which is raising money and gathering volunteers to help with the rebuilding of the town.  

Perry has pressed President Barack Obama and federal officials to reconsider their denial of major emergency aid. The Federal Emergency Management Agency declined last month to grant West a major disaster declaration. 

Fifteen people died in the April 17 fertilizer plant blast. 

Residents face thousands of dollars in unexpected costs and uncertainty about when they can return to West. The town and schools lack tens of millions of dollars after losing parts of three buildings in the blast.

"It's that never-say-die spirit that has sustained us for so long," Perry said. "Working together we will rebuild West." 

In his letter to FEMA, Perry wrote that West sustained damage exceeding $35 million, with millions more in long-term recovery costs. 

The city's water and sewer systems were severely damaged, and hundreds of residents displaced. 

FEMA has said it believes state and local agencies have enough money to cover rebuilding costs.

Last month, officials of the small Central Texas town sued the plant owner and supplier. The suit seeks unspecified damages from plant owner Adair Grain and CF Industries, which supplied agricultural-grade ammonium nitrate toe the plant. A fire at the plant ignited the explosive chemical, flattening homes, schools and businesses and killing firefighters and other first-responders fighting the fire. 

The lawsuit filed in state district court in Waco alleges Adair Grain was negligent in how it stored the chemical and that CF Industries was liable for an inherently hazardous product.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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