Nearly two months ago, an explosion at a fertilizer plant rocked residents here, ravaging their little Texas prairie town and leaving 16 people dead.
This week, it was a denial of public assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that shocked the community.
“Everyone is furious, they’re just plain …,“ said Ruby Kotch, stifling herself from cursing as she sold kolaches at the Village Bakery, a West institution. “How can they not call this a disaster?”
Although FEMA has awarded $7 million in disaster funds to residents and businesses, Monday’s announcement that the agency had denied aid to rebuild roads, utilities and a school angered many residents still displaced from their blasted homes.
Many called the decision a betrayal, especially after President Barack Obama came to nearby Waco and told West residents they would not be forgotten.
“He said he would have our backs,” said Dr. George Smith, West’s EMS director and manager of a nursing home devastated by the explosion. “I think it’s pretty sad that they’re not supporting us. I’m very disappointed in our federal government, especially FEMA.”