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FEMA helps West with temporary housing

Profile image for By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer
By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is helping with temporary housing for residents of West who were displaced by the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion.

At the request of the state, the agency recently activated its Transitional Sheltering Assistance program. The program allows individuals whose homes have been severely damaged or destroyed to stay in a hotel or motel for a limited time with FEMA paying the cost of the room and taxes directly to the hotel.

“We’re here as long as the need is there,” said Susan Solomon, FEMA public information officer.

FEMA’s Region VI office, which covers Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, is based in Denton.

“As of [Monday] morning at 8 a.m, we had 329 individual households register with FEMA for losses they suffered,” she said.

Solomon also noted 79 people went to the disaster recovery center in West to register. It is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week until further notice to accommodate residents.

To be eligible for the assistance, the applicant must be displaced from a primary residence, the primary residence must be in ZIP code 76691 that has been designated for TSA and the primary residence must be unlivable due to damage or lack of power or water. FEMA must be able to verify the applicant’s identity, and FEMA must be able to verify the applicant’s occupancy of the damaged dwelling.

The initial period of assistance is May 5 through May 18. Meals, telephone calls and other incidental charges are not covered, and applicants are responsible for any lodging costs above the authorized allowance. The program does not reimburse previously incurred hotel expenses.

Solomon said FEMA will cover costs for two weeks at a time, checking with each homeowner at the end of that time to see if they need further assistance.

The number of people they can help and for how long will vary, Solomon said, because each disaster is different.

“And this was an emergency disaster declaration. Normally, it doesn’t have transitional sheltering with an emergency declaration, but because the need was so great here, [FEMA] did accommodate that.”

Solomon noted that FEMA is still assisting with other recent disasters such as the effects of Hurricane Sandy on New York and New Jersey.

Those interested in donating to the relief effort can find more information at the Waco Foundation website,

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjLewisDRC.